10:25 AM PT -- Chris just broke his silence ... saying he's excited to start a new chapter after what he calls a "truly incredible" run as 'Bachelor' host.
CH says he's grateful for all the memories he's made on the show, and says the friendships he made during his two-decade journey will last forever.
10:16 AM PT -- Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment -- which control "The Bachelor" franchise -- have confirmed Harrison is stepping aside as host. The companies add ... "We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."
Longtime 'Bachelor' host Chris Harrison is done with the popular reality TV dating franchise ... months after he sparked controversy by defending one of its contestants for her allegedly racist past.
After a 19-year run, Harrison will reportedly receive a massive payout to step away and keep quiet about his departure.
News of Harrison's permanent exit -- first reported by Deadline -- comes hours after the premiere of the 17th season of "The Bachelorette" hosted by Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe ... and just days after it was announced that David Spade and others would be guest hosting this summer's season of "Bachelor in Paradise."
Of course, Chris first stepped away from his 'Bachelor' duties indefinitely back in February, after he got immediate backlash for defending Rachael Kirkconnell's alleged racist past.
Many believed Harrison was dismissive and excusing of the racist behavior alleged against Rachael -- who was one of the final few women vying for Matt James' heart on the most recent 'Bachelor' season -- when he was interviewed by former 'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay.
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After Chris's initial apology wasn't very well received, he issued a more heartfelt one, then later did it in person on 'GMA' ... and said he was committed to change.
Despite that, it seems he never made it back in the good graces of Bachelor Nation ... and Harrison reportedly reached a confidential settlement with network honchos late Monday night to say farewell.