EPIPHANY HULBURD WRITES – “Produce 48,” the highly anticipated third reincarnation of the hugely popular “Produce” series, recently dropped some tantalizing tidbits about its upcoming season premiere, now said to be delayed to June.

Announced loudly via mike at last year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), the show will be a fusion of the well-known Mnet idol group’s survival program, “Produce 101,” and the “idols you can meet” concept of the popular Japanese girl group AKB48.

“Produce 48” invigorates the trainee system for which K-Pop groups are known. It is also the first to allow trainees (i.e., pre-debut K-pop group members) from various entertainment companies to practice together under the guidance of celebrity teachers, as if they were one “National K-Pop group.”

Both of the show’s previous incarnations were hugely popular on the national and international scene, fostering newfound celebrity for the two winning groups and even for several contestants who were eliminated but later debuted in other groups.

In addition to female rapper Cheetah returning as a trainer this season, FTISLAND’s Lee Hong Ki and former SISTAR member Soyou will appear as vocal coaches. Season one’s Bae Yoon Jeong will return as a dance trainer. Other internationally known performers slated for the extravganza: K-Pop choreographer Choi Young Joon and 1MILLION Dance studio’s May J Lee.

Popular actor Lee Seung Gi will succeed Jang Keun-suk and singer BoA to host the show, serving as MC and the national producers’ representative.

Producer team Flow Blow, also responsible for Wanna One’s “Energetic” and last season’s concept track “Never,” will create the highly anticipated theme song.

Given the exceptional success of previous season winner groups I.O.I (season 1) and Wanna One (season 2), after their respective premieres, it is expected—or at least hoped— that season three’s select groups will also soar to stardom, further enhanced by Korean and Japanese collaboration.

The program, which chose its 96 participants in late March, will broadcast in June. Like its series predecessors, “Produce 48” will surely produce not just superstar performers but a superstar brand for itself.

A teaser Trailer for the show can be seen below.

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