Paula Abdul, who joined Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson as one of the original American Idol judges in 2002, admitted to Closer Weekly she “had mixed emotions” when hearing this season will be its last.

In an exclusive interview, Paula, 52, explains, “I felt a little surprised and a little melancholy, because I was a part of it from day one, and was fortunate to experience an incredible feeling of accomplishment when it changed the trajectory of television around the world.”

Paula adds, “I got out at the top — when I left, we had 30 to 35 million people watching.”


Paula with Simon and Randy on American Idol in May 2005.

Paula recalls some of the funniest things that never made the air. “We would play this name game Simon made up. We’d give each other the most ridiculous name or animal or word, and have to incorporate it into our live commentary for a contestant,” she reveals to Closer.

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As far as the rumors that Paula will be reuniting with fellow judges Simon and Randy — she tells Closer, “I can’t imagine anything more than making a guest appearance. But you never know what could happen with Randy and myself… something might work out.”

For Paula’s full interview, including her triumphant return to TV as a judge on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, pickup the latest issue of ‘Closer Weekly,’ on newsstands now!