American Idol, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Elton John

Michael Becker/FOX, Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

So he thinks he can fire everybody?

Nigel Lythgoe, who left his post as executive producer of American Idol in 2008 to focus solely on So You Think You Can Dance and its various incarnations, is poised to make a return to Idol in its hour of need (for a fourth judge, that is).

While the show's focus has appeared to be on finding a so-called replacement for the irreplaceable Simon Cowell, there's also been much quieter talk about scrapping the whole crop of current judges—an idea that Lythgoe has championed in the past when asked about Idol's diminishing popularity.

"I think over the last couple of  years, the show has been about the judges, whether it was Kara [DioGuardi] or Paula [Abdul] leaving or Ellen DeGeneres joining," Lythgoe told E! News in April.

"It shouldn't be about the judges," he said. "It should be about the young talent. And once we get that into focus, the show will be successful again."

And there are plenty of names being bandied about as to who would make for a stellar panel, albeit not exactly a group of shrinking violets.

Count Justin Timberlake and Elton John, who has performed on Idol in the past, as two of the biggest names on Idol creator Simon Fuller's wish list, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Lythgoe has also namechecked John as someone who's "capable of knowing what's needed," and has praised the talents of Abdul and Usher, who "knows exactly what's going on in the moment."

Harry Connick Jr., who won major props for his turn as guest mentor last season, Chris Isaak and Bret Michaels have also come up in conversation.

Abdul, whose name always comes up as a possible addition to Cowell's X Factor when that's up and running on Fox, has inked a deal in the meantime to be lead judge on CBS' foray into bust-a-move programming, Got to Dance, and it's pretty certain that she won't be returning to Idol in any official capacity.

As for who's already employed as an Idol judge: Kara has a year-to-year deal that hasn't officially been reupped for 2011 yet. Randy Jackson has one more year left on his contract. Ellen, however, signed a multiyear deal, so she at least planning on going anywhere for awhile.

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Hey, what do you think of someone from our American Idol: Where Are They Now? gallery becoming a permanent judge?

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