Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Madonna

ABC/Steve Fenn, Kristina Dowling/Getty Images

Karina Smirnoff better watch her back!

Madonna hasn't even met her fiancé, fellow Dancing With the Stars professional hoofer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, but she may already be smitten with him.

Maksim's celeb partner in the upcoming season of DWTS is Madge's longtime best gal-pal, Debi Mazar.

"Debi came in one time and she said, 'I was talking to Madonna and I was describing you to her,' " Maksim, 29, tells me. "And then she goes—and I quote her—'Madonna said, 'Maks sounds divine.' "

He couldn't believe his ears...

But then it sunk in.

"I can die now," Maksim said. "I have accomplished it all—Madonna said I sounded divine."

But before he kicks the bucket, he still has Debi and season nine to work on.

"I was upset to realize that the information out there that Debi had previous dance training was completely bogus," Maksim said. "I was looking forward to an easier season."

He's impressed that the Entourage actress and mother of two young daughters is in such great shape. But, of course, there's the requisite pain that comes with being a contestant on DWTS. "Her feet really hurt," he said, adding, "She was like, 'I've been in heels my whole life, I'm comfortable with that.' But then two and a half weeks later, she was like, 'Can I take my shoes off? My feet hurt.' "

Now, back to Karina, 31, for a second. While their wedding date isn't set yet—he popped the question with a Harry Winston rock on New Year's Eve—Maksim is ready to become a father. "It's Karina's decision," he said. "If she said, 'Let's do it now,' I wouldn't be talking her out of it.'"

One thing Mr. Maksim can't talk about? My exclusive report yesterday that he and Karina will be performing at the Emmys when the awards are handed out Sept. 20.

"I plead the Fifth," he said, laughing. "It's a big deal, but I can't say anything about it."

We're sure if Madonna asked about it, he'd be more than willing to spill.


Get a good look at who's waltzing this time around in our Dancing With the Stars Season Nine photo gallery.

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