Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards
09/14/2009 at 10:35 PM EDT
A contrite Kanye West
helped Jay Leno kick off the TV host's new primetime NBC show on Monday, with the emcee thanking him for not backing out of his commitment to appear
– despite the mountain of criticism
since he interrupted Taylor Swift
's MTV Video Music Awards victory speech.
"Have you had a tough day?" Leno asked West, 32, as the studio audience erupted in laughter. Speaking seriously, West replied, "Yeah, it's been extremely difficult." He admitted to "just dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away, you know, from a talented artist or from anyone, because I only wanted to help people."
Explaining why he was giving a shout-out to the other nominee, Beyoncé
, West said, "My entire life, I've only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right. And I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong, and it wasn't a spectacle or just – you know, it's actually someone's emotions, you know, that I stepped on."
Concurring with many of the sentiments expressed by critics since the incident, West said, "And it was very … rude, period. And, you know, I'd like to be able to apologize to her in person."
West said he knew he'd erred "as soon as I gave the mic back to her and she didn't keep going."
Summing up what he did and how he now feels about it, West said, "I'm just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else's hurt."