She just couldn't stay away. A year and a half after leaving The Biggest Loser to start a family, Jillian Michaels, 38, returns to the ranch to help fellow trainers Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince whip Season 14's contestants into the best shape of their lives. But if you think becoming a mother has made Michaels warm and cuddly, you're mistaken. Judging by her still impressive death stare, only a true loser would dare say she's gone soft.
TV Guide Magazine: What made you decide to come back to the show?
Michaels: A year after I left, people on Facebook and Twitter were still like, "Please go back to The Biggest Loser!" No matter what I do — and I do everything: radio shows, DVDs, books — there's something about the show that gets in people's heads in a way that other mediums just can't. If this is what resonates with my audience the most, I can't get around that. I went to see Madonna in concert and she played all this new music. And everybody just wanted to hear "Holiday." I realized this is "Holiday" for me.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you miss it?
Michaels: I definitely missed Bob! And I missed the way people respond to the show.
TV Guide Magazine: Does it feel different this time around?
Michaels: In previous seasons, contestants came into this house and respected the experience. They gave themselves to the process. Some of this current crop work hard to fail and then gloat in their failure. They'll go, "See? I told you that you were wrong." We're three months into filming — the fact that we're still dealing with this now is outrageous to me. Not all of the contestants, to be clear. There are some who are amazing. There are some whom people will love as much as they've loved their greatest Biggest Loser heroes.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you tempted to tell the problematic ones to just go home?
Michaels: I've already done that this season. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: So motherhood really hasn't changed your approach to the competition?
Michaels: It's so funny. Everybody was like, "You're going to be so much softer." And I really wanted to be, but it's not the case. I feel like aspects of my business and home life are being sacrificed for me to be here, and I need that sacrifice to be worth it. It's as bad as it's ever been. It's worse than it's ever been, actually.
TV Guide Magazine: How so?
Michaels: I started out with five contestants, and by the end of the first workout, only one was left standing in the gym.
TV Guide Magazine: This year, for the first time, there are also three children participating in the show. What's it like working with them?
Michaels: Great! They are sweet, hopeful and making steady progress. The biggest challenge with the kids is the parents, because it's very hard as a parent to hear that you might be loving your kid in a way that is hurting them. It's tough getting a parent to see that without them wanting to kill you. I, of all people, totally understand that.
TV Guide Magazine: When you were previously on The Biggest Loser, most viewers didn't know much about your private life. Why did you finally decide to talk to the press about your girlfriend, Heidi Rhoades, and your two children: Lukensia, 2, who was adopted from Haiti, and Phoenix, 7 months?
Michaels: My agenda is trying to help people live a better life. I just want you to focus on what you're eating for breakfast and what you're doing in the gym. My life is my business. But the minute you bring kids into the equation, you kind of don't have a choice. What was I supposed to do? I materialized a newborn. I didn't know how else to manage that one.
TV Guide Magazine: What has the reaction been like?
Michaels: I was surprised. People were pretty supportive. We've got it all going on in our household—two moms and a black daughter — so I thought we were going to get it from every angle. But, for the most part, people basically said, "God bless. Congratulations!"
TV Guide Magazine: How is family life treating you?
Michaels: It's a zoo in our home. That's my fault, because I'm the biggest kid. I throw the kids and spin them around. Even Phoenix, I hold him like an airplane. I chase the toddler all through the house and she's screaming. It's chaos. Heidi's just like, "Oh, my God. We're all going to have to go to the emergency room." I have these moments when I say, "Whose life is this?" You know your life has changed when a baby pees on you and you just leave the shirt on. You think, "He's just going to puke on me in a minute." But it's worth it in every way.
The Biggest Loser premieres Sunday at 9/8c on NBC.