Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America is back for its 15th season on Sunday, and co-host Anne Burrell believes there’s a good reason as to why the show has continued such a strong run.

“I honestly believe that the reason Worst Cooks has been around for so long is because there are so many people that need help in the kitchen,” Burrell, 49, explains to PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “We start laughing at these people like, ‘Oh my god, they’re worse than me!’”

“But then you see these people dig deep and really turn themselves around and they truly do get better. Everyone starts off laughing at them but then they root for them,” she adds. “It’s a very sweet show. It’s really funny and people actually learn stuff.”

In this nine-episode season, chefs Burrell and Tyler Florence will each lead a team of “kitchen nightmares” through a bootcamp designed to help whip them into top cooking shape.

Burrell expressed her excitement for the upcoming season, even adding that the group is “one of the best casts [the show has] ever had.”

“We have a whole new cast of what I like to call ‘lovable losers’ and every season I’m surprised by these people, like oh here we go again!” she laughs.

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In this season, she adds, the show has “amped up” many of the games that happen during bootcamp.

“It brings a little levity because I’m telling you, bootcamp is a tough place. What we ask these people to do is really hard and it can get really serious so if we have some games, laughing and teamwork aside from just the ‘here do this’ and we’re going to make it hard for you kind of stuff, it just brings fun to the whole situation,” she says.

What isn’t seen on-screen as often is the number of teaching moments that happen between the chefs and recruits. “It honestly is a crash culinary school course,” Burrell says.

“We really put the recruits through the ringer, we ask a lot of them and I tell people on the first day, whether you’re here for a little bit of time or you’re here all the way to the end, being on this show will change your life. If you leave bootcamp without having learned anything it means you didn’t want to. I don’t think one recruit in the 15 seasons that we’ve done can say that they left without learning anything.”

Worst Cooks in America premieres Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.

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