05/18/2012 09:31 am ET Updated May 19, 2012

'American Idol': Jennifer Lopez Exit Might Happen, Says Producer

"American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe acknowledged in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the show could lose Jennifer Lopez, while emphasizing that he's not eager to see the actress and singer go.

"When you've got the most beautiful judge in the world -- an artist who speaks from the heart and with meaning, why lose that?" said Lythgoe. "And why go through a training period every year?"

Lythgoe said discussions about Lopez's time with "Idol" will start between Fox and producer Fremantle now that they have "The X Factor" judging panel squared away.

Lopez has hinted that she may leave "Idol" after her deal for Season 11 expires. Earlier in May 2012, E! Online reported her exit was imminent and Lopez herself told Ellen DeGeneres, "I miss doing other things. It really does lock you down."

Could this just be a bargaining ploy? Lopez's future with "American Idol" was in question after her first season on the series. In August 2011, Lopez told BBC Radio she was on the fence about returning to the Fox singing competition.

"I had an amazing time doing it and I love it but I have a lot of other things happening, and it's going to come down to me making a choice of what I want to do for the next year," Lopez told the BBC. She later signed on for Season 11 with a reported salary of $20 million.

On Thursday, she took to Twitter to shoot down rumors of her departure -- while making it clear that her return is far from guaranteed. "There is no truth to reports that say I am definitely leaving Idol. All I said was I haven't decided what I am doing next year," the star tweeted, punctuating her remark with the hashtag #mediaremix.

Lythgoe, for his part, made it plain that, though he wants Lopez to return, the show will go on with or without her. "It might come down to that in the end," he said.

Click over to The Hollywood Reporter for more on future "American Idol" changes.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article merged two quotes by Lythgoe, thereby muddling the meaning of his statements to The Hollywood Reporter about Lopez.