The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan is assuring viewers the next race around the world featuring dating couples will not be like The Bachelor in any sense.

"Just to put our fans' minds at rest, we're not changing the format of Amazing Race," Keoghan told TV Guide.

"I don't want you to think this is the Family Edition format change that you saw all those years ago [in Season 8]. It's The Amazing Race as you know it. However, for the first time in Amazing Race history, 10 singles are going to be meeting at the starting line for the first time and they will be going on the most extreme blind date ever."

Out of the 11 couples competing on the show, half of them have a pre-existing relationship while the rest are embarking on the craziest and longest blind date ever. Keoghan said there were still be Detours, Roadblocks, U-Turns and Pit Stops as the pairs travel far and wide.

"We know the format works well. We just mixed up the theme," the host said, adding that fans have pushed the dating-couples idea for years.

"There are a lot of applications that we've gotten over the years that have come from singles [saying], 'I don't really have anybody to race with, but I'd really like to go on the Race and maybe you can pair me up with somebody...' We do really listen to our fans and what they say. We listened to our fans after Season 8 when they said, 'Don't change the format.' Some fans thought, 'Oh, my God! They're changing the format. It's becoming a dating show.'"

Keoghan insisted, "Don't worry, it's not a dating show now. It's the race as you know it."

The upcoming theme, however, will create some new twists and turns like never before.

"You'll see people racing while dealing with, 'Do I like this person? Do I think they're attractive? Do I think there is a potential for a relationship after this?' I just want to make it clear to fans we are not changing the format... When we put the word out, we were able to go back to some of the singles that had been applying over the years and we were able to reach out to some singles that we found through casting," Keoghan explained.

Keoghan said the show didn't really consider doing a season with just an entire cast of blind-date couples.

"My personal feeling is that it's more interesting to watch pre-existing couples competing against 10 singles so there's something to compare. Will the newly dating teams be able to out-compete the pre-existing teams and vice versa?" The Amazing Race host told TV Guide.

"It's a different type of relationship because newly dating couples might be on their best behavior for a while because they genuinely like each other. They're only with each other for 21 days max, but they're going through that period where they're on their best behavior. Or, if they don't like each other, they're on their worst behavior. It was so that it wasn't the same flavor in terms of the relationships and that there was a balance and we have something to compare."

Keoghan said producers put some people together who truly seemed to make a great match, but "even when your best friend lines you up on a blind date... sometimes screws it up. Afterward, you go, 'Are you serious? You really thought I'd like Bob?' And your best friend goes, 'I thought you guys would be perfect!'"
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If someone's best friend could be a terrible matchmaker, Keoghan throws out the idea that The Amazing Race may not be entirely successful at it either.

"It's important to say that as hard as we tried to come up with the perfect matches, who's really an expert in coming up with a perfect match? There's a reason that and these websites don't always work. It's hard to find that perfect somebody. We've done our best," he said.

"I can assure you that we are not claiming to be perfect matchmakers because it's too hard. You will see there are connections with some people and they are instantly attracted to each other from the first moment they stare into each other's eyes. I would say on paper, if you look at it, we tried to match people up with their likes and dislikes, and what they want in a mate."

Keoghan explained that a love story coming out of the show would be more powerful and entertaining than trying to cast couples who are awful for one another and could therefore stir up arguments and drama.

"Quite frankly, it's much more interesting if we are able to get through the end of the Race, a newly dating couple wins and they also find love. We wouldn't want to lessen our chances of having that story. That story, to me, is more interesting than if we put people together just because we thought they'd be volatile and we didn't get a match, but we got all this crazy stuff going on," the host told TV Guide.

"I think it's really cool if we're in the long-term able to say, 'We were able to match these people up, we captured the moment they fell in love, we captured this extreme blind date around the world, and they won.' That's better than, 'They hated each other. They were eliminated in the third leg because they just couldn't stand to be around each other.'"

The Amazing Race's 26th season premieres with a special 90-minute episode on Wednesday at 9:30PM ET/PT after Survivor's debut before moving to its regular timeslot on Friday at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.