So what does she think of new judges Jennifer Lopez, 41, and Steven Tyler, 62? "I haven't had the opportunity to speak with them, but I think they're both fantastic," says Abdul, 48. "They're seasoned veterans. They know what they're doing. I think they're going to add a really good dimension."
As far as the playful love/hate relationship she had with Simon Cowell, 51, who ended his run as judge last season, Abdul says the two stay in touch. "That voice is permanently embedded in my brain," she jokes.
She's currently producing and serving on the expert panel for the CBS reality dance competition Live to Dance, but Abdul will always cherish her Idol memories.
"I have nothing but a debt of gratitude [for the show]," she says. "There are aspects of it that I will always treasure."