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AUDIO: Nigel Lythgoe – Potential American Idol Judges Negotiating, Expect Decisions ‘Within 3 Weeks’

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American Idol’s returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe stopped short of saying that the judges have been chosen for the show’s next season, RadarOnline.com has learned, but did indicate a decision will likely come down the pike in about three weeks.

The reality TV mogul told Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show Thursday that he was calling from San Francisco, where more than 10,000 hopefuls had auditioned for a coveted spot on the show.

AUDIO: Listen to Ryan’s Interview with Nigel Lythgoe

“You just hope opening up more oysters, you can uncover more pearls,” he said.

As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are rumored to be joining incumbent judge Randy Jackson on a three-person panel. The fate of judge Kara DioGuardi, a two-year American Idol veteran, remains up in the air.

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When asked about the panel, Lythgoe said, “I can tell you Ryan, absolutely nothing — while negotiations are going on,” adding he thinks the decision will be made “within the next three weeks.”

Lythgoe said that while the principal decisions may have already been made, the ongoing contract negotiations generally slow down the process.

Fox’s smash hit has undergone some dramatic personnel changes since Paula Abdul left following the end of the show’s 2009 season: Simon Cowell, considered by some the heart and soul of the music franchise, left after the 2010 season finale. Abdul’s replacement Ellen DeGeneres bolted after just a year, saying she wasn’t a good fit for the show.

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Despite the changes, Lythgoe said he’s “excited to be back — it feels like home.”

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