Ellen DeGeneres apologises on-air following accusations of racism, intimidation on set

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has issued an on-air apology after widespread allegations of a toxic working environment behind-the-scenes emerged on social media.

DeGeneres, 62, marked the premiere of Season 18 of her long-running eponymous chat show with an admission that "things happened here that never should have happened".

The once esteemed media personality fell from grace after claims of workplace bullying on set began to circulate online.

"I take this very seriously and I want to say I'm so sorry to the people it affected," DeGeneres told her audience on Monday (local time).

DeGeneres said "the necessary changes" had been made after WarnerMedia launched an internal inquiry into the allegations of misconduct.

Three of the series' top producers - Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman - were subsequently dismissed in August. 

Long-standing studio DJ, Stephen 'tWitch' Boss, has since been promoted to co-executive producer, she announced.

"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened.

"If I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am sorry for that."

DeGeneres said the show was "starting a new chapter", including a new tag for the talk show host.

"If you want to give yourself a new nickname or title, don't go with the 'be kind' lady. Don't do it," she quipped, referring to the 'be kind' mantra from the show's sign-off.

Although the 62-year-old admitted she is "a work in progress" who gets "sad", "mad", "anxious", "frustrated" and "impatient", she also reiterated that the on-screen persona she presents is authentic.

"The truth is that I am the person that you see on your TV, [but] I am also a lot of other things."

Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen DeGeneres. Photo credit: Getty

In a BuzzFeed News article earlier this year, several former employees accused senior staff of intimidation, racism and sexual harassment on set, with one even solicited for oral sex.

It was revealed that DeGeneres had issued an apology to the show's staffers via email in July, as well as in a video meeting with her team in August.

"On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness - no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect," she wrote in the memo, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

"Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.

"For that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show."

DeGeneres herself has become embroiled in the accusations, with Everybody Loves Raymond actor Brad Garrett claiming the host's alleged bad behaviour was "common knowledge" in the industry.