Arie Luyendyk Jr. from Emily Maynard's season is the next star of 'The Bachelor'

Gibson Johns,

"The Bachelor" has named its next star -- and it's definitely a surprise.

Arie Luyendyk Jr., who was the runner-up on Emily Maynard's season of "The Bachelorette" back in 2012, will be the leading man of the hit ABC reality show's 22nd season, set to air in early 2018.

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"This is pretty surreal," Luyendyk Jr., 35, told People. "It doesn't feel real yet, but I'm taking it step-by-step. The timing is just so perfect in my life. I could not be more excited for this journey I'm about to embark on."

Luyendyk Jr. lost to Jef Holm, who Maynard eventually broke up with. She is now married with three children.

The race car driver turned real estate agent was revealed to be the next Bachelor on "Good Morning America" on Thursday morning after weeks of speculation as to who would become the franchise's next star. Peter Kraus, who was the runner-up on the most recent season of "The Bachelorette," was widely considered to be the favorite -- though he had previously expressed doubt over whether he wanted to participate.

The show's creator, Mike Fleiss, has been teasing the announcement as rumors swirled around who it could be, though insiders told People that the producers of the show were in "panic" mode over not having a viable option.

According to former Bachelor Sean Lowe, Luyendyk Jr. was slated to be The Bachelor back in 2014, but was replaced last minute by Chris Soules.

"They actually told Arie he was gonna be the Bachelor," Lowe told Dish Nation in 2015. "They flew [him] down, had a camera crew, filmed him telling his family he was gonna be the next Bachelor -- then pulled the rug out from underneath him and made Chris the Bachelor."

How long all the "Bachelor" relationships have lasted:

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