Simon Cowell Talks 'American Idol' Exit; Nigel Lythgoe Hopes To 'Trample All Over' Paula

“American Idol” roars back tonight for Season 10 and the show’s most infamous judge, Simon Cowell, is dishing about his exit from the hit FOX series. Plus, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe gives AccessHollywood.com’s Laura Saltman the scoop on what to expect!

In a new interview airing Sunday at 10 PM on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Master Class,” the British judge gets candid about his decision to leave “Idol.”

“I asked a very successful guy, ‘What’s the best advice you can give me?’ and he said, ‘Simon, always know when to leave the fair.’ And I think that’s good advice,” Simon recalled. “Something inside you just says, ‘You know what, it’s time to go.’ Without any regrets whatsoever. And I can look back on the past ten years and say, ‘It’s been a blast.’ I’ve enjoyed myself, I mean it’s not the most difficult job in the world is it?”

The British TV personality explained that his lack of a formal education never got in the way of his success.

“All my life I had to teach myself. I never really had a proper education. I wasn’t born with any skill. I didn’t learn anything from school,” he said in the interview. “Mainly, I trust my instincts because I have very broad tastes. I genuinely believe that if I like something, other people are going to like it as well.”

Simon’s “broad tastes” will be put to the test again when he returns to FOX in the fall with “X Factor.”

In more “Idol” news, AccessHollywood.com’s Laura Saltman caught up with “Idol’s” executive producer, Nigel, who said the contestants this season are relieved not to have to sing in front of Simon.

“There isn’t the fear that there was of the embarrassment of singing in front of Simon for instance,” Nigel explained. “Where the fear of what he might say really put them off, this is just a happy nervousness. And it does energize them a little bit. I think you’ll see a lot more fun this year.”

Adding, “We’re going to see a lot of good talent because a lot of good talent came. We saw more people than we’ve ever seen before.”

When it comes to “Idol” squaring off against Paula Abdul’s “Live To Dance,” Nigel is split on whether he hopes to trounce the former judge in the ratings. The two shows will tape right next to each other at CBS Television City in Los Angeles.

“There’s half of me, which is the half that loves Paula, and I hope we split the audience fifty-fifty,” he explained. “The professional side of me is hoping we trample all over her!”

“American Idol” returns tonight at 8 PM with a two-hour premiere on FOX. “Live To Dance” also airs tonight at 8 PM on CBS.

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