Nigel Lythgoe: American Idol Firing Wasn’t Handled Well (VIDEO)

Nigel Lythgoe dropped by Huffington Post to chat about the 7 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Reality Competition and Outstanding Reality Host, that his critically acclaimed dance show, So You Think You Can Dance received.

But he also shared his feelings on being fired from his other show, American Idol.

At about the 11:28 mark, the interviewer asks Nigel to respond to something season 5 winner, Taylor Hicks who said he was very upset that Nigel and fellow producer, Ken Warwick were fired.

“It was tough,” said Nigel about the experience of being fired, “I’d be lying if I said, ‘oh, it was just one of those things.’ It was tough. I brought it here. I was the executive that created the show from a piece of paper. So, you feel as though it’s your show. But it has been dipping in the ratings. If the people who now own the show–cause it’s gone through many hands along the way. I said this before. If they feel the show is going to be better without Ken and I there as the executive producers, then fingers crossed that they’re right. Without that show, we’re going to be missing a great deal of talent that’s out there.”

“I don’t want to lose the show whatever happens to it,” he said. “I hope they find a set of judges that have chemistry.”

“That’s the biggest thing last year,” Nigel continued. “Those judges really, as great as they are as individuals, didn’t really gel as a team. I think people forgot that you really do need good chemistry for judges.”

Nigel went on to compliment rival, The Voice, “And that’s why The Voice, as well as having a cute little gimmick with the revolving chairs–with Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, there’s great chemistry and camaraderie there. And even when Usher and Shakira joined in, that chemistry was maintained.”

However, Nigel feels the drama ultimately did not overshadow the talent. He feels the team did their “utmost best” to focus on the contestants. Actually, I disagree with that. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj couldn’t resist throwing passive-aggressive shade at each other during the live shows. But, whatever Nigel.

For the record, the most aspect of being fired was his family having to read the gossip. “It wasn’t handled well,” Nigel said, “We all came out of it feeling a bit sick.”

He adds that the panel found some terrific talent in winner Candice Glover and runner-up, Kree Harrison. And he believes 3rd placer, Angie Miller is a “brilliant” songwriter.

Also, Nigel says Paula Abdul will return to So You Think You Can Dance! Also, he chats about being pals with the folks at Dancing with the Stars, and promotes the Dizzy Feet Foundation, an organization the promotes dance for underprivileged kids.

Watch the interview below.

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mj santilli

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted.I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!
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  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    While chemistry is nice, you don’t need it. What you really need on a judging panel is respect. The 2 Divas do not respect each other.

  • Larc

    I’m thinking Nigel’s firing was handled far better than he handled S12 of Idol. Anyway, it’s not as if he shouldn’t have seen it coming. We did. If Nigel really thought the biggest problem with the season was the judges, then he should have been fired if only for his poor judgment. It was the lack of exciting contestants caused by your stupid casting, Nigel!

  • James

    Oh, come on Nigel.
    The judges (especially Mariah and Nikki) would have over shadowed the talent if you would have actually put on 10 talented people instead of only the five talented female contestants.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Well, it’d be refreshing if Lythgoe admitted that S12 turned into a mess of conflicting agendas and he was right in there with his… but what were the odds, really?

    It was gonna be spin-about-how-great-he-was or spin-to-blame-somebody-else. Lythgoe gets to be “classy” by explaining how he meant well, as it’s more Ken Whatsit’s job to blame the contestants, the audience, the weather, and anything else within reach.

  • merkureye

    The lack of chemistry between Nicki and Mariah just killed the show this season. It’s is fun as a viewer of the show to watch the judges interact. That aspect of the show was completely missing this year.
    By allowing the Mariah-Nicki battle to escalate to the live shows, Nigel got what he deserved in getting fired. He lost control at that point.
    I cannot imagine why Mariah acted the way that she did. I noticed that Nicki made overtures to be friendly on the show but Mariah rebuffed her. I lost a lot of respect for Mariah over that.
    Gotta say though that Miguel and Mariah song Beautiful has grown on me. Like it.

  • James

    Unlike Nicki at least Mariah showed up on time.

  • gem2477

    I would the judges were a good portion of the problem last season.

  • merkureye

    The only thing Nicki missed by being late was Curtis Finch’s performance. I would have arrived late too. She probably planned it that way.

  • JosieX

    I did not see any overtures to be friendly. What I saw was a determination to keep attention centered on herself with no apparent regard for what was best for the show. Good riddance to Nicki and I won’t particularly miss Mariah either, although at least she showed what appeared to be genuine kindness and goodwill toward the contestants, and I liked her for that.

  • James

    Still doesn’t make it right and it was very unprofessional seeing that everyone else was there.

  • Beaugard Stevens

    As shabbily as Idol has treated some of the contestants over the years, I don’t think he has much room to complain.

  • Valarie


  • MissMyEm

    Along with their old and boring themes, and along with the fact that they should have seen the friction between Nikki and Mariah from the start, part of the reason Nigel and Ken are gone may be their blatant favoritism of some singers over others and failure to promote the ones who are not the favorites. I see this from Nigel on SYTYCD as well. There’s a subtle, or not so subtle, depending upon one’s ability to see through him, attempt to manipulate the viewers. At least that’s how I see it and how I’ve always seen it since I started watching the show way back when it began.

    This is the difference between Jimmy Iovine and both Nigel and Ken. A winner may not be his favorite, but he works hard at promoting them and it is apparently working.

    And they’re very fortunate to have Taylor Hick’s support, surprising as that was to me.

  • ellen8

    Ha – funny quote from Taylor since Nigel hated him (or that was the rumor at the time from the SP). Probably exaggerated but that’s why it’s funny.

  • HopeForMusic

    Nicki also lacked a sense of reality in thinking that the show was so much about her that she started to get up to leave when Curtis was eliminated. Grade school children do that, not very, very well paid adults.

  • Onescoopyes

    One thing I hope they don’t change next season is the semi-Final results show to reveal the top 10. I liked how they revealed the finalists to the audience and how they got to sing after making it.

  • James

    The sad thing is that when she wasn’t acting like a grade school child, she was a really judge but that just wasn’t the case very often.

  • No Thanks

    When I think about what went wrong with Idol, I picture a lot of powerful old dudes, resting on their laurels as their minions milked an old cow dry.

  • Ari

    I disagree. It’s a TV show host first.. You need some chemistry

  • Ari

    He probably doesn’t feel totally responsible because he personally didn’t sign the judges panel. And ego He had a good run & Idol at its peak was a national phenomenon, something that’d getting rarer in today’s fragmented media world

  • Ari

    Why not blame the owners of the show who snagged Mariah & then screwed her by hiring Minaj. No one hear knows what really went on behind the scenes. Having worked on a major TV show, I can tell you that you often would never imagine what goes on out of the public view… And it’s usually not pretty watching the sausage being made

  • curly_yenta

    Oh karma is the sweet equalizer, isn’t it? You get what you deserve in the long run and in this case, Nigel, got what he deserved. Good riddance to him.

  • Onescoopyes

    He’s making a lot of money elsewhere, not being on idol anymore won’t affect his life in the long run. I’m sure he has enough money now to do anything.

  • JosieX

    I agree. I am thinking of the Jermaine Jones incident. My indifference to Nigel turned to distaste after that.

  • Kariann Hart

    I have wondered why they just didn’t let the show go with the flow. There was a lot of talent auditioning. But the manipulations were so obvious. I wish Nigel and Ken the best with their next project.

  • emme1000

    I thought the Mariah/Nicki bickering is what bothered me most. I would just set my DVR and push right past them. I prefer the commercials to their behavior.

  • emme1000

    why so angry at him?

  • emme1000

    I so agree….it is a good formula…but Jimmy’s comments and the same old themes are boooooring! I really liked the Big Band Theme from Season One.

  • EB

    What wasn’t handled well, as I do recall, was season twelve. Anything that succeeded that for Nigel & Co. are natural and deserved consequences.

  • Ponkiiee

    the manipulation was obvious.. lol

  • Q_3

    Nigel still does not get why The Voice is beating Idol. It is not the spinning chairs or Adam-Blake chemistry. It is because The Voice is entertaining and Idol became predictable and boring.

  • voco_qara

    Except the voice’s ratings are just as bad as idol’s