TheGrill 2015: Former ‘American Idol’ EP Nigel Lythgoe Reveals Why the Show Had to End (Video)

“I’ve always equated it to an old boxer. You don’t want to see some young guy come up and keep knocking them out,” Lythgoe says at TheWrap’s sixth media leadership conference

“American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe explained why it’s time for the reality singing competition series to end after 15 seasons, saying the show forgot about what made it great in its early years.

“When we started ‘American Idol,’ no one knew who the hell Simon Cowell was, or Randy Jackson. And the network was telling me that Paula Abdul was past it,” Lythgoe said at TheWrap’s annual media leadership conference TheGrill. “It should always be about the talent.”

He argued that the series had forgotten about the talent once original judges Abdul and Cowell left the show. The show later saw substantial turnover in judges, including short tenures for Ellen Degeneres, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

“We forgot what ‘American Idol’ was about. It should’ve been about the talent, and all of a sudden Mariah and Nicki turn up and it’s about [bumps fists together] this. We lost the humor of it, and the warmth of it.”

As a result, the show saw a decline in ratings and had to be put to rest. “I’ve always equated it to an old boxer. You don’t want to see some young guy come up and keep knocking them out,” he said.

Lythgoe was appearing on a panel about the current state of reality television, with Ben Silverman, founder and chairman of Electus; Allison Grodner, executive producer of “Big Brother” on CBS; and David Lyle, president of PactUS, a business association that lobbies on behalf of production companies.

Though the genre seems to have stalled in recent years, particularly on broadcast networks, Lythgoe was optimistic about the future. “”I don’t ever see reality going away,” he said. “It is part of the diet of television viewers now.”

See the complete coverage of TheWrap’s Reality TV panel here:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 06: (L-R) Joseph Kapsch, Executive Editor at TheWrap, Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer "American Idol", Ben Silverman, Founder & Chairman of Electus, David Lyle, President PactUS and executive producer of "Big Brother" Allison Grodner speak onstage during TheWrap's 6th Annual TheGrill at Montage Beverly Hills on October 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/Getty Images for TheWrap)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – OCTOBER 06: (L-R) Joseph Kapsch, Executive Editor at TheWrap, Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer “American Idol”, Ben Silverman, Founder & Chairman of Electus, David Lyle, President PactUS and executive producer of “Big Brother” Allison Grodner speak onstage during TheWrap’s 6th Annual TheGrill at Montage Beverly Hills on October 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/Getty Images for TheWrap)