‘American Idol’ Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe Talks Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler Exits: ‘I’m Really Upset’ (AUDIO)

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American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe admitted to Ryan Seacrest Monday morning that he is “really upset” about the recent departures of judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, who announced they were leaving TV’s top-rated program late last week.

“I spoke to Jennifer last Friday. She called me just after she spoke to you, and I have to respect both Jennifer and Steven’s decisions,” he said Monday on On Air With Ryan Seacrest. “They’ve got a much bigger career than just sitting judging Idol. They’re both very talented people, and you have to respect their decision to carry on and do what they were doing before Idol. It breaks my heart, because I love them both dearly.”

With Lopez and Tyler now officially out, Lythgoe also admitted that replacing their seats on the judges’ table is going to be “tough.”

“At the end of the day, I think what we’ve seriously got to talk about is just using people for a year,” he said. “Because if we do want these big stars, and we do, you cannot take them away from what they do. That’s depriving the public of a star for a start, but also earning a lot of money.”

In the wake of Lopez and Tyler’s exits, a number of names have floated around as possible replacements for the judges, who departed after two seasons with the show. Among the many: Everyone from Mariah Carey to Katy Perry.

However, as of Monday, Lythgoe didn’t seem to indicate that any slots had been filled.

“I love so many people,” he said. “When names come by, you go: ‘Wouldn’t they be fantastic; wouldn’t they be great?’ But at the end of the day…it’s chemistry. No matter how good you are as an individual, it’s how you fit into a panel of other people as well. So we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’m sure nobody’s name will be mentioned at this time while we’re getting it together.”

In the meantime, no word yet on the future of Randy Jackson, who has been with the show since its incarnation in 2002.

In a statement Friday, Jackson, 56, offered his thoughts on Lopez and Tyler’s exits, saying: “Steven and Jennifer are truly two of the most talented and consummate professionals I’ve worked with. I was friends with them before we hopped on this crazy journey together, and I have no doubt our friendships will continue long after. I will love them for life.”

For more on the latest developments from the ongoing American Idol shakeup, click here.

Lopez confirmed her exit from Idol Friday morning after a long-winded interview with Seacrest, during which she admitted, “I honestly feel like that the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do that I’ve put, kind of, on hold, because I love Idol so much … You have a lot of other responsibilities and you have a lot of other things that you do, and you have to pay attention to that too.”

Tyler departed the show one day prior to focus on work with his band, Aerosmith.