Material girls such as Ma, 22, have rocketed If You Are the One and its rival dating show, Take Me Out, to the summit of Chinese television fame.

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"In the old shows, people just introduced themselves, and there was little mutual choice," says Wang Gang, who produces If You Are the One for Jiangsu Satellite TV.

Wang says his show offers confrontation, nerves and suspense.

But Ma Nuo, a Beijing model, seeks loftier transport and wealthier dates.

Even if a date went bad, "I'd rather cry in a BMW" was her giggling, withering rejection, watched by millions on China's top-rated TV entertainment show.

BEIJING — The young man had a simple question: "Would you often come riding with me on my bike?

" It's the kind of line that worked for many suitors in China, the kingdom of bicycles, during its austere decades under Chairman Mao.

"They and their parents are all worried about the marriage problem." By the standards of the USA — which brought the world the hookups of The Bachelor and the smackdowns of Jersey Shore— China's twice-weekly, hour-long hit shows can appear tame.

For Chinese viewers, they have proved riveting, turning traditional matchmaking on its head and celebrating instant celebrity.

Publicity-generating scandals include allegations of fake contestants and nude photos, posted online, of one contestant, who says she was coerced.

They also highlight how a perpetual human struggle, finding the right mate, presses harder than ever in the world's most populous nation.

Although dating programs have aired for almost two decades here, they didn't look like this, where a glamorous and often intimidating lineup of 24 women can dismiss the male hopefuls, who appear singly, with the push of a button or a blunt critique of their appearance, attitude and accomplishments.