Ellen DeGeneres knows she has work to do.
On Monday, the longtime host returned to her syndicated daytime talk show for its season 18 premiere — the first time she filmed on set following allegations of a toxic workplace environment over the summer.
“Ellen is definitely a perfectionist and knows she can be difficult, but she never wanted to come across as mean-spirited,”a source tells PEOPLE. “She is looking at herself to make changes.”
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The Ellen DeGeneres Show first came under fire in July after BuzzFeed News published a report in which current and former employees spoke anonymously about on-set grievances, including accusations of racial discrimination as well as fear of retribution for complaints. An internal investigation conducted by WarnerMedia was concluded in August, when DeGeneres apologized to her employees via video conference and confirmed three of her top producers were leaving.
During her six-minute opening monologue on Monday, DeGeneres, 62, addressed the controversy head-on in front of an audience watching remotely due to COVID-19 precautions.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened,” she said. “I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
The host and actress also acknowledged that she’s in a “position of privilege and power” and hopes to start “a new chapter” with the show’s 270 employees, whom she had been connecting with through Zoom prior to the premiere.
Known for her “be kind to one another” motto, DeGeneres also spoke about her own shortcomings.
“The truth is I am that person you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things,” she said. “Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient — and I am working on all of that.”
After the taping wrapped, the crew applauded DeGeneres as she walked off-set.
“It was an emotional moment,” an insider tells PEOPLE.
With upcoming celebrity guests — including Kerry Washington, Adam Sandler and Amy Schumer — slated to appear this fall, DeGeneres now hopes to rally her fans to move past the controversy.
“She did a good job of admitting her mistakes,” an industry executive says. “It was evident that she has been trying and has made big changes. We’ll see how that goes.”
Another source insists DeGeneres “will have to prove herself. People want to give her a chance because this show means a lot to everyone working on it, but it’s going to be a long road.”
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