Ellen DeGeneres opened the 18th season of her talk show on Monday following months of allegations of a toxic workplace culture under her watch that led to an internal investigation.
The host, for the first time, publicly addressed the controversy surrounding her, after BuzzFeed News published a report detailing a culture of fear among her employees that included accusations of sexual misconduct, racism and intimidation from the show's management.
"I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realised that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show," DeGeneres said in her opening monologue.
DeGeneres said her programme was kicking off a "new chapter" after "necessary changes" following an internal investigation from parent company WarnerMedia, though she did not go into detail on any of the restructuring.
However, in August, executive producer Ed Glavin, co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, and head writer Kevin Leman left the show.
DeGeneres, a long-time comedian, actor and host, also joked that she was in a tough position given her reputation as the "be kind" lady, a nickname she said she earned after she urged kindness following the 2010 suicide of a young man who was bullied for being homosexual.
"Being known as the 'be kind' lady is a tricky position to be in," DeGeneres said. "So let me give you some advice out there if anybody's thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'be kind' lady. Don't do it."
"The truth is I am that person that you see on TV," she continued, denying allegations that offstage her personality was a far cry from the sunny persona she has crafted onstage.
DeGeneres returned to her California studio for Monday's premiere, with a virtual audience on rows of screens due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeGeneres circulated her monologue online, though many social media users mocked her – the line "I am a work in progress" was particularly skewered – saying her words rang hollow.
Last year, before the scandal surrounding her eponymous show, she renewed her hosting contract until 2022, also signing a deal to create three shows for the streaming platform HBO Max.