McClaren is one of 11 managers - interim and permanent to have worked under Ashley since he bought the Magpies in 2007.
"You don't hear anything about him because you never meet him," he told talkSPORT. "You have to deal with all the people around Mike Ashley, which is fine, which is the way he wanted to manage the club.
"I think I met him 20 minutes before the first game against Southampton. It was just a nice, little, friendly chit-chat and then there was two minutes at Watford to just wish him a Happy New Year and that was it.
"The rest of the time you deal with the team around him and that's how he runs his businesses, that's how he ran Newcastle. For many years, people have been grumbling about it.
"Now, there's an opportunity. The fans are relieved, really looking forward to this. It didn't matter who it was. They believe anyone can take the club forward.
"It's an unbelievable football club. It's unique. The fans are unique. I know everyone says that about their own football club and their fans are different, but they really are unique there.
"I always remember Sir Bobby saying to me, 'Steve if you ever get the chance to go and manage Newcastle, you take it because anyone who cracks it will be an absolute king up there.'"