Dividing the contestants into four tribes -- African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians -- was one the freshest ideas he had seen since season one, Probst told CBS' "The Early Show" Friday.
He said it will make the reality show more interesting and controversial.
In addition, Probst told co-anchor Harry Smith "it's very likely" the viewers will be divided as well.
"I think it's very natural to assume that certain groups are going to have audience members rooting for them simply because they share ethnicity," he said. "At the end of the day, I think it will come down to what it always comes down to: Who do I like?"
Minority members of New York's City Council and state Legislature denounced the racial theme and called on CBS "to pull the plug," the New York Post reported Friday.
"Is this going to help to bring people together? I don't think so," said Robert Johnson, the Democratic co-chairman of the Legislature's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.
The 13th installment of "Survivor" begins at 8 p.m. Eastern, Sept. 14, on CBS.