Produce 101 (프로듀스 101) was a 2016 reality girl group survival show on Mnet. It was a large-scale project in which the public "produces" a unit girl group by voting for their favorite members from a pool of 101 trainees from 46 different entertainment companies.
Produce 101 is the nation's first agency-collaboration unit girl group project, which brings together 101 trainees from different entertainment companies both inside and outside of South Korea, and 11 trainees were be selected to form a unit girl group. The group, I.O.I performed unique songs together for a year and released albums as a group. They were allowed to join girl groups that their agencies were planning while doing their promotions as I.O.I. The members began living together on December 5, 2015. They took to the stage for the first time to face off in a group mission at the CJ E&M studio in Ilsan on December 27, 2015.
See: Season 1 Contestants
(January 22, 2016)
The contestants entered the studio where 101 seats were arranged in a pyramid shape with a glamorous chair for the '#1' trainee at the top. The trainees were introduced by their label and choose seats to sit in from 1 (the top seat) to 101 (the last seat). The contestants then performed songs and/or dances with their agency group, or solo if they were the only one representing their agency. Each individual trainee was judged based on their overall talents during their performance and were graded and organized into classes; A being the highest ("best") and F the lowest ("worst"). At the end of the episode the popularity ranking was shown with JYP Entertainment's Jeon Somi in first place.
(January 29, 2016)
After being grouped according to the grades given to the trainees, Jang Geunsuk (The "Nation's Representative") announced that they will be performing on M! Countdown and are given the song "Pick Me" which they had to learn in the following days. Their line distribution and overall participation in the performance was decided from their classed groups, in which case class A would have the most number of lines while class F would be backup dancers. They were informed they had 3 days to practice, and then they had to videotape their progress and would be reassigned to their final groups after a re-evaluation from the trainers. The trainees were filmed individually dancing and singing the song, "Pick Me" which was then watched and evaluated by the trainers. They were then given their new grades/class letter and asked to move to their new rooms by grade. The episode ended with JYP's Jeon Somi's name tag being shown on the screen as she enters a room, which presumably meant she was moved from group A.
(February 5, 2016)
The girls moved to their new class groups after the re-evaluations. They started rehearsing for their "Pick Me" stage where Fantagio Music's Choi Yoojung, who was moved from class D to A, was chosen as the center for the M! Countdown performance. After the performance, Jang Geunsuk announced the departure of 3 trainees from the show (by their will) and also announced that the last 37 contestants on the rankings would be eliminated in the next episode. The trainees then started their second mission, which was group performances with a live audience to watch them and vote in-person. They were given different debut songs of ten girl groups as options to pick from: Wonder Girls' "Irony", KARA's "Break It", Girls' Generation's "Into the New World", After School's "AH", 2NE1's "Fire", 4Minute's "Hot Issue", f(x)'s "LA chA TA", SISTAR's "Push Push", Miss A's "Bad Girl Good Girl", and Apink's "I Don't Know". The girls in class A competed for the privilege choice each song through a foot race. There were double the amount of A class trainees than songs, so each song had two trainees chosen as the representative. They were then given the privilege of picking members from classes B,C,D, and F to form their teams. They were able to choose in the order of who won the foot race. Each song was performed live by two groups and each member was voted on separately by the live audience, combining the total scores to decide which group was the winner. This episode showed the groups rehearsing and assigning roles such as 'center', 'leader', 'main vocal', 'second vocal', etc. Groups contained 4-5 members each. It was revealed that their points from the live voting would be combined with their online votes which will then determine their scores. Members of the overall winning group would gain an extra 1000 points each.
(February 12, 2016)
The second half of the groups performed their respective songs and the rehearsals for the groups were shown. During the rehearsals of the groups performing f(x)'s "La chA TA", MBK Entertainment's Kim Dani and Clear Company's Ma Eunjin both got sick and were unable to attend practice. Kim Dani quickly recovered from her fever, but Ma Eunjin was forced to leave the show due to her health. After the last performance, the girls were shown their rankings based purely on their individual votes and the additional 1000 points for the girls of the winning teams, with Jellyfish Entertainment's Kim Sejeong overtaking first place.
(February 19, 2016)
For this episode, Shin Bora, Heo Youngji and Block B's Park Kyung appeared as special panelists. In between announcements of each girl's ranking during the first elimination, events leading up to the elimination were shown. Just after arriving at the dorms, the girls were taken to get flu shots. Weeks after, they were weighed and did a series of exercises with the help of trainer Ray Yang. Some girls were put on a strict diet in order to lose weight. The trainees were also tricked into participating in a couple 'hidden cameras'. The first was a consideration test to see who would help a staff member who was struggling with two heavy packs of water bottles. The second was a puddle of coke which was spilled on the floor of a waiting room to see if they would clean up the mess or ignore it. The third was a $30,000 camera which a staff pretended to break during a fake interview. The staff tells each trainee that she might get fired, and some girls take responsibility, pretending it was them who broke it regardless of the consequense to potentially be kicked off the show. The 97 trainees all individually voted to choose the 'top visual' trainee. Pledis Entertainment's Zhou Jieqiong took first place while Jung Chaeyeon, Kim Doyeon, Kim Sejeong, Kim Jisung, Seo Hyelin, Park Siyeon, Kwon Eunbean, Ki Heehyun, Lee Suhyun (I.B.I), and Jeon Somi took 2nd to 11th place respectively. Jang Geunsuk then announced the top 20 voted trainees with Kim Sejeong coming in 1st for the first ranking evaluation, and finally the 61st and last trainee, Happy Face Entertainment's Hwang Ayoung, who was barely saved from elimination.
(February 26, 2016)
Jang Geunsuk once again met up with the trainees to announce the next challenge. The trainees were tasked to perform live in groups based on positions they want to debut in: vocal, dance, or rap. There were six songs for vocals (Big Bang's "Monster", EXO's "Call Me Baby", Huh Gak and John Park's "My Best", GFriend's "Me Gustas Tu", Zion.T's "Yanghwa BRDG", and Tashannie's "Day by Day"), four songs for Dance (EXO's "Growl", Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj's "Bang Bang", Destiny's Child's "Say My Name", and Sunmi's "Full Moon") and three songs for Rap (Verbal Jint's "You Look Happy", SMTM4's "Turtle Ship", and IKON's "Rhythm Ta"). Each song had a member limit and would be picked by each trainee in order of their ranks. In which case, Jellyfish Entertainment's Kim Sejeong had the privilege of choosing the song she wants to perform first and Happy Face Entertainment's Hwang Ayoung was automatically placed in the empty remaining slot. Jang Geunsuk also announced that only 35 trainees would remain in the next round and the winner from each category will receive 100,000 votes added on to their current votes. The vocal teams were the first to perform and after each performance, they were ranked in their groups first and then overall in each category. Kim Sejeong emerged as the winner in the vocal category.
(March 4, 2016)
The groups that competed in the dance and rap categories performed their respective songs and the rehearsals for the groups were shown. The "Bang Bang" group, composed of Choi Yoojung, Jeon Somi, Kim Doyeon, Kim Chungha, Kim Dani, Kwon Eunbean, and Kim Seokyung, received the show's first-ever encore call. Kconic Entertainment's Kim Hyeongeun emerged as the winner in the rap category, and Jellyfish Entertainment's Kang Mina emerged as the winner in the dance category.
(March 11, 2016)
The girls were given an English lesson by trainer Lee Siwon through imitating and watching scenes of rapper Jessi on Unpretty Rapstar. Through a video recording, Jang Geunsuk then announced the beginning of the next evaluation prior to the second round of eliminations. This meant that all 61 girls that survived up to that point would continue to practice for the performances, but not all of them may get to perform. The evaluation was revealed to be a concept evaluation, and the girls were given five original songs to choose from - EDM song "24 Hours" (produced by DJ Koo and Maximite, who previously produced "Pick Me"), girl crush pop song "Fingertips" (produced by Ryan Jhun), hip hop song "Don't Matter" (produced by San E), trap pop song "Yum-Yum" (produced by iDR), and girlish pop song "In The Same Place"(produced by B1A4's Jung Jinyoung). The winning team would receive a benefit of 150,000 votes on top of their current votes. The girls chose what song they most wanted to perform. They went in order of individual ranking from the last evaluation. However, as only 14 people could be on one team (twice the amount that will be on the team, to make room for when the elimination occurs), the first girl to have chosen a concept song was given the right to kick out any extra trainees, thus forcing them to choose another song. After practicing for the new songs, the girls underwent the second elimination, beginning with rank 34 up to 1. Kim Sejeong once again took first place. Jang Geunsuk then announced the 35th and last trainee, SS Entertainment's Lee Suhyun, who was barely saved from elimination.
(March 18, 2016)
Following eliminations, the teams were reorganized; groups with more than 7 members voted on who to remove from their group. Then the groups with less than 7 members decided on who they wanted to join their groups. Jang Geunsuk announced that the evaluation performances would have an audience of 3000, far more than the 1000 they had in previous evaluations. The girls resumed practice, reassigning parts and meeting with the producers to record studio versions of their songs. On the day of the performances, several eliminated trainees were shown cheering in the audience in support of the girls performing. Both the "Yum-Yum" team and the "In the Same Place" team received encore calls, but by a small margin of 30 audience votes, "In the Same Place" ultimately took the win and the 150,000 votes benefit.
(March 25, 2016)
Amidst the eliminations, the girls underwent various lessons (make-up and speech), attended a therapy session to share their feelings, and participated in a fun question relay. They were also asked to pick the 5 most popular trainees amongst them, with Pledis Entertainment's Zhou Jieqiong taking 1st place and Kim Doyeon, Jeon Somi, Kim Chungha, and Lee Suhyun taking 2nd to 5th place, respectively. At the elimination, Jang Geunsuk revealed that only 22 trainees would be advancing to the final stage. The girls were also shocked to discover huge differences in the rankings as a result of the new voting system and the 150,000 vote benefit from the concept evaluation. Various girls previously ranking within the top 11 falling near the bottom. Ranks 21 to 3 were revealed and Kim Sejeong and Jeon Somi were called up as the contenders for 1st, with Jeon Somi revealed to have won by a landslide. The contenders for 22nd place are then called up: Chorokbaem Juna's Ng Sze Kai and SS Entertainment's Lee Suhyun. Lee Suhyun once again barely survives being eliminated. With the top 22 confirmed, Jang Geunsuk announced the final mission: the debut song evaluation. He introduced "Crush" (produced by Ryan Jhun, who previously produced "Fingertips") as the final line-up's debut song. He explained that they would be split into two teams of 11, each team would be composed of one main vocal, eight sub vocals, and two rappers, with only Jeon Somi's position as center confirmed due to having previously ranked 1st. The girls chose their positions beginning with rank 22 up to 1. The higher ranked girls were given the advantage of replacing the lower ranked girls and bumping them into another position. After positions were confirmed, the girls began practicing the choreography and memorized the lyrics in preparation for the final stage.
(April 1, 2016)
This episode was the only episode to be aired live. The episode began by showing the girls' audition tapes, as well as their final confessional interviews. An announcement was then made that viewers would be able to send SMS votes for one girl only, which would be added to the online votes in order to determine the final line-up. Throughout the episode, the trainee ranked 11th was revealed every now and then to encourage people to vote. The debut evaluation started off with the the top 22 trainees performing "PICK ME" and the eliminated trainees joining the performance at the end. Jang Geunsuk then revealed that the debut group, named I.O.I, would debut with a "unique" concept. The episode then flashed back to the guerilla concert held by the top 22 girls, where they performed their songs from the concept evaluation and eliminated trainee, Show Works' Hwang Insun, acted as the MC. A high-five event was also held with the first 500 people that arrived at the concert, with Kim Sejeong receiving the most high-fives.
The episode cut to the girls recording "When the Cherry Blossoms Fade" (produced by B1A4's Jin-young who previously produced "In the Same Place"), which they performed on the final stage. The girls were then shown preparing for their debut song, during which they surprised the trainers with thank you video messages, cake, and flowers. After the performance of "CRUSH", the episode cut to the girls interviewing one another, undergoing group photoshoots, and finally, reading letters they had written to themselves from earlier episodes. Voting soon came to a close, and the ranking announcements began. Lim Nayoung, Kang Mina, Kim Doyeon, Jung Chaeyeon, Zhou Jieqiong, Kim Sohye, Kim Chungha, and Choi Yoojung are announced as 10th to 3rd place, respectively, which confirmed them for debut. Again, Jeon Somi and Kim Sejeong were called up as contenders for 1st, the center spot. Again, Jeon Somi took the 1st place spot, which confirmed her position as I.O.I's center. The contenders for the 11th spot, Star Empire Entertainment's Han Hyeri and Starship Entertainment's Yu Yeonjung, were then announced with Yu Yeonjung ultimately being revealed to be I.O.I's final member.
Controversy arose after Ilgan Sports leaked the contract terms between CJ E&M and the Produce 101 trainees' agencies to the public on February 16, 2016. According to the contract, the agencies and trainees are prohibited from legal action against manipulated edits made on the show and from revealing unreleased information. While the agencies share music production costs, trainees will not receive payment for participating in the show and CJ E&M will take half of any profits from Produce 101 music releases, with the agencies of members featured in the release sharing the remainder.
An affiliate of the show stated that "it [was] regrettable that the contents of the contract were revealed" and emphasized that the terms outlined in the contract are "legally common" and "made to protect the editorial rights of producers and to prevent any spoilers of the show."
For information on the voting manipulation controversy see: Mnet Vote Manipulation Investigation.
The name of the group was revealed in Episode 11 to be I.O.I.
- I.O.I, the group made up of the top 11 trainees promoted for a year as a group. After they finished their contract each member went back to their respective agency.
- I.B.I, made up of 5 eliminated trainees that ranked 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th released their 1st single "Molae Molae" on August 18. They were known as 'I.O.I's sister group' under LOEN Entertainment.
- Eight eliminated trainees released the single "Don't Give Up" on September 28, as 101: