07/16/2012 02:19 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2012

Nigel Lythgoe Of 'American Idol' Talks Jennifer Lopez's Exit

When Jennifer Lopez made her official "American Idol" exit last week, no one was more surprised than the show's executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.

“I was shocked to start with," he said on Monday on "On Air With Ryan Seacrest." "Then when we spoke about it, I have to respect the fact that ... she’s an extremely talented woman as well and she’s somewhat restricted by being there judging people. She’s got an executive producer’s role to do, she’s got her own singing role to do, she’s a fantastic dancer and actress. We work so hard with ‘Idol,’ but it just keeps you busy and stops you doing other things."

Lopez was emotional about her decision to leave the show, as she tearfully explained to Ryan Seacrest on Friday.

"I'm telling the absolute truth in that I really have been torn" she said. "It all kind of worked together for a while, but it just gets more complicated ... And something has to give and that's, I think, where I am right now."

Steven Tyler also stepped down as an "Idol" judge last week, saying he needed to get back to work on his music.

“After some long ... hard ... thoughts … I've decided it's time for me to let go of my mistress 'American Idol' before she boils my rabbit," Tyler said in a statement. "The next few years are going to be dedicated to kicking some serious ass -- the ultimate in auditory takeover."

For more on Lythgoe's feelings about "Idol," head over to

Fox Shows