This season of
has not lived up to its executive producer's hopes.
"That got off to a bad start and that didn't help anything,"
Nigel Lythgoe tells
of the friction between judges
Nicki Minaj and
"The guys themselves are, goodness me, I don't think you could find two nicer men," he says of judges
Randy Jackson and
Keith Urban. "Randy is loved by America, and Keith is the nicest man you could hope to meet. Individually, every single one of them has something to offer."
Collectively, however, he says, "for me it is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle that doesn't quite fit."
Lythgoe realizes that some panels had great interaction among the judges, and this one just never came together as a unit.
"I don't think we have good chemistry with the judges," he says. "And that saddens me. They are good individually, but I miss the camaraderie we have had in the past."
His least favorite part of the season has been, no shocker, the falling ratings.
"And it has been really difficult because it has been a good season of talent," Lythgoe says, "That is always very sad, and everybody of course has an opinion as to how we can stop falling ratings. They all become producers."
As far as the talent goes, though, Lythgoe says he is bowled over by the five women:
Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller, Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur
"It's been an incredibly brilliant for talent," he says. "The five girls we are left with now -- I jump from one to the other saying, 'You are fantastic! No, you are fantastic. You are brilliant.'
As to whether there will be a new slate of judges next season, Lythgoe rests that decision squarely with FOX.
"FOX books the judges and has the last few years," he says.