TV host Datuk Aznil Nawawi knew exactly how comedian Steve Harvey felt when he wrongly announced Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines as Miss Universe in 2015.

Back in 2004, on the second season of reality singing competition Akademi Fantasia (AF), host Aznil mistakenly named Zahid instead of Fitri as the contestant eliminated on one of its episodes. Zahid eventually went on to win AF.

“Initially, I was told there would not be any elimination, but you know, with AF, there are many surprises and in the end, (the producers) said, ‘We’re gonna eliminate one person.’

“It was all said through my ear piece and that’s the challenge of hosting AF – a call like that can be made very impromptu,” recalls the 54-year-old TV presenter.

“Later, I opened the card and read it but somehow when I announced it, the wrong name just came out.”

Aznil, who started hosting on TV in the early 1990s and is one the country’s most well-known presenters today, adds: “This has never happened before in my hosting career. So when I watched Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe, I could relate to that moment very much.”

Aznil Nawawi Akademi Fantasia

Aznil is the original Akademi Fantasia host, helming the show from its first to fifth season and its ninth season. Photo: The Star/Ibrahim Mohtar

The experience taught him a lot, he reflects. Aznil is also glad he didn’t receive backlash from fans of the show: “I’m so lucky that at that time social media wasn’t very strong. There wasn’t a platform for people to attack. If it were to happen today, I suppose it would be the end of my career.”

He’s back!

Aznil is looking back on his time on AF during a press event promoting AF Megastar, where he is reprising his role.

AF Megastar sees past AF winners and contestants compete for the top prize. Aznil reveals he didn’t want to take the job initially.

“I told them to consider other hosts instead because I’ve said before that I don’t want to host AF anymore after six seasons. I felt that the audience had already moved on. These days, you see more comedians as hosts.

“But when it comes to AF Megastar, since the show will have the alumni performing, it’s about bringing back old memories. And since I’ve hosted AF for nearly half of its 13 seasons, I have a lot of stories to share,” he explains.

Above all, Aznil hopes his stint on the show will help bring families together.

“AF used to be a programme for the whole family. From the youngest to the oldest in the family, they would watch it while eating dinner together, cry together.

“After the show moved on to a newer host, I think it appealed a lot more to the younger audience. By hosting it again, I hope it would bring family members together and they can watch it as a weekend activity.”

AF Megastar airs every Sunday at 9pm on Astro Ria (Ch 104).