Nigel Lythgoe, familiar to many viewers as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance , is returning as an executive producer of American Idol , rejoining fellow exec producers Simon Fuller, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick after a two-year absence. He had worked on the show for its first seven seasons. In an interview with Daily Variety Lythgoe said that he would like to bring Paula Abdul back to the judging table but that he suspects she has already signed an exclusive deal with CBS. "But I'd recommend we have her in a heartbeat." Nevertheless, he said approved of the two personalities who are expected to take the seats of departing judges Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeneres Jennifer Lopez and Steve Tyler. Lythgoe, who appears as a judge on the British version of American Idol (titled Pop Idol ), said that he himself had no interest in replacing Simon Cowell himself. "You do not follow Sean Connery in the role of James Bond," he said. "You follow George Lazenby. Simon Cowell is brilliant." But he seemed to have harsh criticism for Cowell's interaction with DeGeneres last season "It almost felt like Simon Cowell turned his back on Ellen. It felt uncomfortable," he told Variety . Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that veteran record producer Jimmy Iovine has been signed as an Idol mentor -- essentially playing the role that Clive Davis did in the show's early years.