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American Idol's Nigel Lythgoe Sounds Off on Judging Drama: "They Didn't Gel as a Whole"

Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, AMERICAN IDOL Michael Becker / FOX

American Idol's season may be over, but it's still dominating headlines.

Fox's long-running reality series' 12th season was all about judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson, who exclusively confirmed to E! News he is not returning, as it's been reported that Idol is looking to replace the entire judging panel next season after a sharp ratings decline. American Idol's powers that-be have remained mum on all of the drama surrounding the judging panel...until now.

In an interview with Haute Living, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe opens up about all four judges and what they brought to the table...and why they just didn't work well together.

MORE: Original judges Randy, Paul and Simon recently had a lovefest on Twitter!

"Chemistry is something that everyone has to contribute to," Lythgoe says when asked why this season didn't work. "Each one of them is terrific on their ownthey all bring something to the tablebut they just don't gel as a whole."

Lythgoe had nothing but kind words for season 12's oft-feuding judges Carey and Minaj. "Mariah brings a wealth of knowledge when she talks about how to sing something," he says, "And Nicki is very focused; she hits the nail on the head a lot of the time. She's very honest and she doesn't care whether the public likes her or not, and I believe that's the right way to be a judge. When you start wondering whether or not the public likes you, you'll start holding back your true thoughts."

As for the panel's two men, Lythgoe says, "Keith is a wonderful guy and a very, very nice person. He really tries to help the kids with his critiques and Randy, well, America loves Randy. He's very honest. With all the ‘in it to win its' are an awful lot of good, honest sentiment. He's not just all cliché."

What did you think of season 12's judging panel? Do you think they didn't "gel"? Sound off in the comments!

PHOTOS: Idol's biggest contestants and winners

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