updated 10/19/2012 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/19/2012 AT 1:20 PM ET
Step aside ladies, it’s time for the guys to smize.
“The male model idea has been around for five years,” Tyra Banks told PEOPLE days after announcing that men will be competing alongside women on America’s Next Top Model – a first in the show’s history – for its upcoming 20th season.
And it wasn’t an easy feat.
“Everybody says, ‘Tyra, you are the boss’ – but they don’t know that I have a boss. So I’ve had to ask my bosses for five years [to change up the show],” Banks said at the Flawsome Ball benefit Thursday in New York.
She’s been lobbying for years to get men on the show, even presenting different types of men to the network higher-ups.
Why their sudden change of heart?
“I think it has something to do with the 20th anniversary [of the show],” she said. “I think [the network executives] were ready for a bang and a change.”
One big change when the show debuts next summer: “The male and female models will live in the same house,” Tyra said.
Judge Rob Evans thinks friendly competition among men and women will expand the show’s viewership and, of course, add drama.
“I think it’s cool they switched it to females and males because if it was all males, they aren’t as b–––y as the women,” he told PEOPLE. “So it wouldn’t be good TV.”
Said Evans: “There is only so much you can get out of [a] male model.”
Reporting by LORINA LANA