“American Ninja Warrior” host and former NFL player Akbar Gbajabiamila has joined CBS’ “The Talk” for Season 12, mere days after Elaine Welteroth’s exit from the daytime talk show and not long after co-host Carrie Ann Inaba announced she would not be returning following a leave of absence. Gbajabiamila will host alongside Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots and Jerry O’Connell, making his official debut on Monday, Sept. 13. Previously, he had appeared as a guest co-host on multiple Season 11 episodes in June and July.
With his addition, the hosts will be evenly split between men and women.
“It’s a new day in daytime for Season 12 of ‘The Talk,’ and we are thrilled to welcome Akbar to the family. His engaging personality, openness and quick wit really impressed us when he appeared as a guest co-host last season,” said Heather Gray, executive producer and showrunner, in a statement.
“Akbar’s candor and humor come with ease and are great additions to the conversation. Also, his relatability as a husband and father creates a special connection with the viewers that is invaluable,” added Kristin Matthews, executive producer and showrunner.
“In a world as divided as ours, I look forward to showing up as my fun and authentic self every day and advocating for conversation over confrontation,” said Gbajabiamila, calling his new hosting gig an honor. Currently, he hosts NBC’s competition series “American Ninja Warrior” and “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”
He also executive produced the 2020 film “Sylvie’s Love” and played five years in the NFL as a linebacker and defensive end before retiring in 2008.
The daytime CBS staple is still down two hosts — Inaba and Sharon Osbourne, the latter whom made her exit after defending Piers Morgan’s controversial comments about the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle during her revelatory interview with Oprah Winfrey.