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Lythgoe replaced as 'American Idol' producer as ratings drop

British television and film director and producer Nigel Lythgoe arrives at the 2012 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles Septe
British television and film director and producer Nigel Lythgoe arrives at the 2012 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles Septe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Swedish producer Per Blankens will be taking the lead on a revamped season of "American Idol," the show's production company said on Monday, after long-time British producer Nigel Lythgoe said he was fired from the show due to falling ratings.

Blankens most recently was the executive producer of "Idol," Sweden's version of the popular televised singing competition and helped the show garner strong ratings on Swedish TV.

He will oversee the upcoming 13th season of "American Idol," due to premiere in January 2014.

"(Per) is extremely passionate about 'Idol' and I'm very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping 'Idol' creatively vibrant. He brings the talent and energy needed to keep 'American Idol' strong," Trish Kinane, executive producer of the Fox competition show, said in a statement.

Lythgoe, who is the creator and judge of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" competition show, tweeted over the weekend "just had 10 days in the Bahamas, rain everyday. I get back to the States and get fired. Sad!"

In a follow-up statement on Monday, Lythgoe said he was sad to be leaving a great team.

"If the executives that are now in charge of 'American Idol' believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I've loved every moment of it," Lythgoe said.

His departure comes after judges Mariah Carey, Minaj and Randy Jackson announced they were leaving the show, along with Fox's reality programming chief Mike Darnell, who will be leaving the network at the end of June.

"American Idol," which premiered in 2002 and became Fox's ratings juggernaut with more than 30 million viewers during its peak years of 2006 and 2007, has suffered from a slump in viewership in recent years.

Last month, the season 12 finale drew the lowest audience yet despite the star power of Carey, Minaj and country singer Keith Urban on the judging panel, with 14.2 million tuning in to see vocal powerhouse Candice Glover win the competition.

The ratings drop came as a blow to "American Idol," which had revamped its panel with high-priced talent. Carey reportedly earned $18 million and Minaj an estimated $12 million for one season.

Pop singer and actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler left "Idol" in 2012 after two seasons and used their increased visibility from the show to relaunch their music careers.

Fox is owned by News Corp.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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