Randy Jackson: I’m the ‘Assertive’ One on ‘Idol’ Now

American Idol’s top dog, Randy Jackson, is ready to shake things up on the hit talent show. Celebuzz sat down with the only original Idol judge left standing to find out just what the new season has in store following his appearance on MTV‘s The Seven.

The new season of Idol, which kicks off Jan. 19, sparkles with a number of changes show producers hope will engage loyal Idol disciples and bring in a new generation of fans. Idol contestants will be living together, as they did in earlier seasons, the contestants will be mentored by influential music exec Jimmy Iovine and the age limit was dropped to 15. The show will also feature sudden death elimination rounds and there will no longer be gender separation throughout the competition, which means the most promising talent will move through each round regardless of gender.

Show producers have also traded the condescending snipes and silver-tongued swipes of Simon Cowell and the dazed and confused fancy of Paula Abdul for triple-threat diva Jennifer Lopez and rock icon Steven Tyler. Jackson gushes that the chemistry was automatic:

We got along like a house on fire. I admired both of them for a long time, and they all come from the same side of the music that Ryan [Seacrest] and I come from. It’s been amazing. They’ve become great judges. What surprised me a little bit is that they actually really care about these kids. They actually really want them to do well.

Jackson does admit, however, that the he doesn’t always see eye to eye with the new judges. “That naturally happens,” says Jackson. “It always happens when you’re passionate about who you love or who you want to champion in a competition.”

Known for his laid-back critiques that often lead to head-scratching catchphrases, Jackson confesses that he may be stepping into Simon Cowell’s surly shoes this season. “He’s [Simon] irreplaceable…one of my dearest friends,” says Jackson. “He’s got his own show coming later that I’m sure will be successful. I don’t know if anybody really replaced him. You will probably see me be a little more assertive.”

Although the show boasts winners (and losers) such as Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert, the most recent crop of Idols have yet to breakthrough. This has lead many critics to skeptically concede that Idol’s early star-making magic has vanished. Jackson believes that will all change this season.

“I don’t think it’s the make or break season,” says Jackson. “I think what has to happen is that we have to discover an amazingly talented unique person that goes on to do well.”

The veteran judge assures that there is no secret to what the Idol judges are looking for this time around.

The same thing that made people great 100 years ago is the same thing that still makes them great today. What we’re really looking for, more than anything, is somebody that can have a career. I think a lot of the artists that are out today will be here for a year or two and then you’ll never hear from them again. The Holy Grail of Idol always is unbelievable talent, unique and a star. So whether it’s Bieber, Gaga, Muse, Bono, Brandon Flowers from The Killers, I don’t know. Whatever dynamic star that it is, that’s what we’re looking for.

Catch Randy, Jennifer, Steven and Ryan Seacrest when American Idol Season 10 premieres Jan 19 on FOX.