Fixed myself. The problem was caused by the modification of the search using in admin using pre_get_posts. I would consider this a bug with ACF because if you modify pre_get_posts, ACF should still work.
Anyway, I struggled with this issue for hours. Leaving this comment here for someone else who’s facing similar issues.
Feel free to reply here if you get stuck; hopefully, I’ll respond soon.
a pre_get_posts filter will effect all queries unless conditions are added for excluding queries based on something in the query. Or in this case you could exclude queries run during AJAX requests. ACF uses a standard WP_Query to get the posts/search results so it will be affected by any pre_get_posts filters active on the site.
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