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Backstage at the American Idol Finale: Ryan Seacrest Gives Us the Grand Tour!

Phillip Phillips, American Idol Michael Becker / FOX

This...is how you make American Idol!

Our very own Ryan Seacrest was kind enough to take us on an exclusive tour of Nokia Theater as American Idol prepares for its big two-night finale, and he gave us all kinds of secrets.

For example: Just how early does Ryan find out the results that give us the new Idol? Plus, he sits down with Nigel Lythgoe to talk about the surprises in store for tonight and tomorrow, and the status of the Idol judges...

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Ryan was running through Wednesday night's results show when he got to talking about how he announces the winner—a moment that gets almost zero preparation.

"We never rehearse the results," Debbie, Idol's stage manager reveals. "We go in the dressing room and we kind of talk about it because we never have time to rehearse it. We never rehearse it on camera "

Ryan adds: "Some time before the show I [find] out in my dressing room, so I can think about how we're going to do it."

MORE: Finale Watch: Which Shows Had the Biggest Send-Offs—and Which Had the Saddest?

Lythgoe, surrounded by papers full of Idol secrets, tells us that the next two nights will be full of surprises, including a moving tribute to a fallen star.

"There are so many artists coming on, and we are going to do a Donna Summer tribute, and so many people want to be apart of it. Nobody that I'm going to name at the moment," he laughs. "We just put something together today with a surprise guest for Jessica (Sanchez). She's got two songs with surprise guests. Phillip (Phillips) has two songs with surprise guests. "

And what of those rumors that Jennifer Lopez isn't returning to Idol next season? Ryan asks the tough questions, and we (sort of) get an answer.

"We've got to get through this season first. We just got through the Fox upfronts. We just heard who the new judges are on The X Factor, so a lot of things have been going on," Lythgoe insists.

"We'll just take ourselves calmly and think about everything. We've got to start planning now. We've certainly got to go out to the stadiums because we've got to book those early for the initial audition process. And then, hopefully, and I'm really keeping my fingers crossed, our three judges come back."

To get the whole tour, and see Ryan try out different ways to announce the winner of American Idol, check out the video below!

Who do you think is winning American Idol this season?

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