Spoiler alert - this story relates to an episode which has not yet aired on New Zealand television.
For anyone thinking of signing up for My Kitchen Rules in the future, Manu Feildel has a warning: "Don't get nasty."
In an episode which will air on TVNZ 2 on May 15th, an all-female team will be sent packing. It's the first time in the show's nine seasons that Manu and fellow judge Pete Evans have kicked out a team for their behaviour.
So what made Manu snap?
"There was a time we were sitting around the table that was uncomfortable," Manu, 45, told TV WEEK in Australia.
"We have been doing this [judging MKR] for a long time, and there's always a bit of fighting. But this was just taking it too far. It wasn't healthy, and it wasn't nice."
The decision to send one team home wasn't taken lightly. But Manu says the move was necessary to "save the show".
"We don't want to start something that might continue in the next series," he says.
The chef adds the drama that unfolds goes against everything the show's about.
"I hope it's going to be a benchmark for future seasons and remind people why they should enter the competition: to show us you're the best cook in Australia – and that's it," he says.
Two of the NSW teams – sisters Emma and Jess, and best friends Sonya and Hadil – have clashed from the start.
In the episode in question, things get very personal, with insults flying about each other's appearances. You can watch the showdown in the player above. It culminates in Manu asking Sonya and Hadil to leave the table.
Manu describes the incident as "a bit ugly".
"Sometimes I feel like we have got kids around the table rather than adults," he says. "Everyone was so upset. There are always fights, but this was too far."
But being a dad-of-two, Manu has no problem with disciplining kids who play up. In fact, he has no regrets with sending the women home.
"I felt like I was dealing with my 13-year old son [Jonti]," he says.
"I'm used to telling him off. I was ready to take the responsibility and try to change the mood and the competition to where it was supposed to be at."
This is the first time in the history of My Kitchen Rules that a team has been sent home due to their behaviour. Manu says they've never even come close to it before.
"It's a show I've been working on for nine years now and it's a great show to work on," he says.
"We've always had a good time, a good laugh. A couple of fights here and there, but it's never been taken that far."
Manu says he made a "quick decision" at the dinner party, along with Pete and the show's production team.
"It's like having a rotten apple in a box," he explains. "All the other apples get rotten as well. We had to make a change."
"It was building up and we were getting more upset and anxious, so we decided to ask them to leave," the disappointed judge reveals.
"I felt for everyone. I felt for the cooks – we were in their house – and for the other contestants, who were shocked at the attitudes of Sonya and Hadil," he says. "That's not what the show is about."
There was no argument from Sonya and Hadil. "They just got up and left," he says.
But the remaining teams were all shocked at what had happened. "I don't think anyone enjoyed it or was pleased with the situation," Manu admits.
"I think everyone was like, 'Oh, my God – what have we [the judges] done?'"
But once the team was gone, he says the tone changed "100 per cent".
"We continued, and the rest of the competition was fantastic," he smiles.
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