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Nigel Lythgoe Reveals “American Idol’s” Biggest Mistake

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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photo: Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic

Yahoo!'s "omg! Insider" caught up with Nigel Lythgoe at the Critics' Choice Television Awards Monday night, only two days after Nigel confirmed via Twitter that he'd been "fired" as the longtime executive producer of "American Idol." And when Nigel was asked what "Idol's" biggest mistake was, his answer was pretty interesting.

"The biggest mistake, that we've all gone along with, is trying to make the program younger. It isn't that program," Nigel revealed. "It's a real family show…and if you just go for the daughter, you lose the mum. And if you lose Mom, then you lose Dad. If you don't go for a family entertainment show, you're going to lose out. And I think that's what happened."

What's so interesting about Nigel's comment is the fact that the hiring of controversial judge Nicki Minaj was clearly a move by Fox to bring in a younger demographic and an edgier vibe. Was Nigel hinting that hiring Nicki was a mistake? He steadfastly defended her throughout Season 12.

On the flipside, "Idol" was actually criticized throughout Nigel's run for not trying hard enough to skew younger, by not clearing newer songs or having more modern theme nights. Perhaps Nigel's apparent resistance to giving "Idol" a youthful makeover had something to do with his dismissal.

Nigel did make it clear that "Idol" is still a success, however. "The thing is, we always are and always have been judged against ourselves, not the rest of the programs that are on television," he said (still using the word "we" out of habit, even though he is no longer with the show). "And so when you're getting 30 to 35 million viewers and it gets knocked down to 15, 16 million viewers, they say, 'Wow, they've lost 50 percent of their audience.' But it's still 5 to 6 million more than anybody else out there."

What do you think was "American Idol's" biggest mistake?

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