"There's a large group out there that's like, 'Screw this guy. I hope he falls on his face and gets what coming to him,' and he does," Harrison tells TVGuide.com.
Womack, who dumped both DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft during his Season 11 finale, is back, and faces some skeptical contestants — and Pappas and Croft — during the Jan. 3 season premiere. But despite some of the animosity he initially feels, Harrison says it becomes an old-school kind of season — free of "crazy scandal."
TVGuide.com: So what's the big scandal this season?
Chris Harrison: There was no huge fireworks crazy scandal. It either happens or it doesn't ... Either someone sleeps with one of our producers or they don't. Someone has a girlfriend back at home or they don't. We're always left up to the whim of our contestants.
TVGuide.com: So no drama?
Harrison: The funny thing is there's a lot of drama and my guess is Brad doesn't know or hasn't seen about 95 percent of it. It's definitely one of those seasons where he's not privy to a lot of it and I think he's going to be shocked by what's going on behind the scenes or over at the girls' house.
TVGuide.com: Is it refreshing to have a season with no outlandish scandal?
Harrison: Yes, it's refreshing. There's a huge part of me, the normal human being part of me that is completely relieved. It's kind of old-school Bachelor. Brad was such an overwhelming story going in that I think he overshadowed anything, anyway. Him trying to redeem himself and proving he's a good guy, that's more than enough to keep everyone intrigued. I'm kind of glad nothing else happened to take away from that.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about the group of women.
Harrison: What we have this year instead of scandals are unbelievably compelling, tragic stories that you will absolutely be captivated by. It's a different group than we're used to, a little more mature in their life experiences. One thing I love about this show is you plug these people in and they all bring their own baggage. Whatever it is, good, bad or tragic, that obviously affects the show and that's where the show goes. It's amazing to see how this show is pushed and pulled by everyone's stories and their histories.
TVGuide.com: Is there going to be a fan favorite right off the bat?
Harrison: Emily. She comes in this sweet, cute Southern package, and even if you didn't know her story you'd want to put her on your night stand and keep her as a doll. She's the sweetest thing in the world and then you hear her story and realize how strong she is, and what she has had to endure.
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TVGuide.com: Will there be another Vienna-type that fights with all the girls?
Harrison: Michelle "Money" is someone who's a polarizing figure. She might easily be the most beautiful girl on the show and knocks Brad on his backside the moment she gets out of the limo with this leopard print dress. Lo and behold, she's the instigator in the house. But all Brad sees is this sweet, unbelievably beautiful girl.
TVGuide.com: What can you say about DeAnna and Jenni's visit?
Harrison: I thought it was a great idea. He needs to have that closure and although they've already moved on and Jenni's married and DeAnna's about to be, I think for him it was good to have it out in the friendly confines of the Bachelor house. It was a great springboard to start the show for Brad, make amends, really admit that he was a jackass.
TVGuide.com: How did his previous Bachelor debacle affect his process this time around?
Harrison: As he was going through this he was second-guessing everything he was doing. Am I the same Brad ...? He would mentally exhaust himself. I think what you'll see is him give the girls a little bit longer leash to where you'll be screaming at home: Get rid of the girl. Because of what he's gone through he was afraid to make a mistake ... He was very careful and deliberate in everything he did almost to a detriment sometimes.
TVGuide.com: So I hear Brad's a happy man these days.
Harrison: You'll have to wait and see if it's a "happy ending" with a proposal, but he is in love. For him, it's a win, because he wanted to prove to himself, as much as anybody, that he can get there.
The Bachelor debuts Monday, Jan. 3 at 8/7c on ABC.