KOREA - Reality television is old stomping ground for K-pop mogul Yang Hyun-suk.
Yang tapped into the now-popular formula to debut boy band Big Bang in 2006 and then kept viewers abreast on his follow-up act, the girl group 2NE1, with three reality shows.
Most recently, the prominent YG Entertainment founder and main producer proved his knack for judging as well on SBS' music reality competition "K-Pop Star," from whence new YG solo artist, Season 1 runner-up Lee Hi, hails.
Now, Yang is turning to the familiar medium to select his next new act.
Titled "WIN: Who Is Next," the upcoming reality program pits two all-male teams against each other. The winning team will go on to debut under YG Entertainment as the boy band WINNER.
Slated to premiere this Friday on cable channel Mnet, "WIN," Yang warns, might come across as "cold and cutthroat," especially since the losing team must face the reality of having to wait indefinitely for their next big chance, or even disband and search for better opportunities.
Given that both teams have been training at YG Entertainment for around three to four years, the very thought of getting so close to making it only to fail in front of the camera would be a bitter pill to swallow indeed.
"I hope people know, though, that this is a selection process based on talent and not on the workings of a system," Yang, 42, said at the show's press conference in Seoul on Tuesday.
According to Yang, this time around there will be no judges to cast their votes. Viewers have a full say in who makes the cut.
"I want the masses to decide," Yang explained of why he nixed the judging aspect commonly found in television singing competitions.
Such a move might help differentiate "WIN" from the slew of other music audition programs. It also might peak viewer interest in a program that some may see as nothing more than a vehicle for promoting YG's new boy band.
Another slant that could keep the show fresh is the absence of Yang's sweet, dimpled "K-Pop Star" judge persona. Yang revealed he will be showing his "other side" in the upcoming show.
"Through this program, I will show you just how strict and objective I am when I'm training my flock," said Yang.
Viewers are likely to recognize some of the show's contestants, particularly "Superstar K" contestant Kang Seung-yoon and Lee Seung-hoon of "K-Pop Star."
Kang and Lee will be rubbing shoulders in Team A, a five-member, primarily 20-something group that Yang says can tackle an eclectic array of music genres.
Team B, which features six members who are mainly in their mid-to-late teens, sports a more hip-hop, rhythm and blues sound, according to Yang.
Just because Team A has high-profile members like Kang and Lee does not necessarily give them an advantage, Yang said, stressing that Team B is equally formidable.
Plans are to air the show to viewers in over 10 Asian countries as well as other international audiences.
"We are getting fans from Asia and around the world in on the action," said Yang.
As for the long-awaited girl group, oft-referred to as the YG version of Girls' Generation, which was slated to debut soon, Yang revealed that he is not "100 percent satisfied" with how things are coming along yet and could launch the group as early as this year or as late as next year.
"Rather than have the guys wait, we decided to debut them first," Yang said.
"WIN: Who Is Next" starts airing on Mnet at 10 p.m. Friday nights on Aug. 23. The program is slated to air to viewers overseas starting mid-September.