Howie Mandel on CNBC’s Bigger, More Exciting ‘Deal or No Deal’

Jeff Daly/CNBC

When the concept of Deal or No Deal was pitched to him in a Los Angeles-area deli in 2005, Howie Mandel was thoroughly unimpressed.

“There’s no game. There’s no trivia. There’s no skill. You’re just asking me to pick numbers. And how is that going to engage an audience for an hour?” he wondered. Still, NBC would be airing Deal or No Deal in primetime over five nights, and Mandel figured the opportunity was worth the risk.

He remembers taping the first show, and how his humanity took over as he stood by the contestant who was facing a life-altering choice in the most pressure-packed environment. “My whole focus became, ‘I just need you to make good decisions. And I just need you to walk out of here much better off than when you walked in, because this means so much more to you than it means to me.’”

Deal or No Deal was an unexpected hit, and Mandel’s expressively pronounced “Deeeeeal … or no deal?” became a pop-culture catchphrase. It ran for four seasons on NBC and for two more in syndication.

Now, Deal or No Deal is back with Mandel hosting 30 new episodes on CNBC beginning Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 8pm ET. “Deal or No Deal 2.0 is bigger. It’s even more exciting, and I think just because it’s a different time in the world,” Mandel says. “It is a place to escape and watch people’s hopes and dreams come true and their lives change forever. I think that’s what Deal or No Deal offers people, but with even more takeaways. Not everybody can sing a song. Not everybody can dance. But everybody, whether you’re 5 or 95, can make a decision that can change their lives.”

Twists on the original series include a new female Banker. While she’ll still work in shadow, some of the rationale for her decisions will be revealed. “You never heard before the reasoning for the offers or the counters or the deals or the no deals, and now you get to hear it,” Mandel says, noting that contestants will now have one opportunity to pitch an offer to the Banker.

Many of the original briefcase models are also returning, but you can probably count one out. Former case model and Suits star Meghan Markle is enjoying her current role as the Duchess of Sussex. “We may not see the Duchess,” Mandel says. “She was busy.”

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Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife