In this exclusive video, the 64-year-old musician, whose U.S. tour begins May 30, talks about his childhood (in Tuskegee, Alabama), the ups and downs of his decades-long career and why, backstage in Germany, he sat down and lectured Bruno Mars.
"The student is doing well," Richie says about Mars, 28.
While he concedes that his mentee could stray from the straight and narrow, he's confident Mars will always find his way.
"He's going to make his mistakes," says Richie. "But it's all right. The fact is, he's talented as hell."
The singer also discussed why he and some friends decided to form The Commodores while undergraduates at Alabama's Tuskegee University.
"We were basically trying to impress every girl on the campus," says Richie. He credits the band, which he left in 1982 to pursue his solo career, with helping him get through some early rough patches.
"I crashed and burned a couple of times. There were moments in time that you feel, 'I think I am having a nervous breakdown,' " Richie admits. "[But] on the day that you think you are going to quit, you have five guys telling you it's going to be okay."
For more on the life and career – what he calls "a magical story" – of Lionel Richie, watch the video below.