THE KELLY CLARKSON SHOW -- Episode J159 -- Pictured: Ryan Seacrest
Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal

Ryan Seacrest Tells Kelly Clarkson He Almost Had a Very Different Role on 'American Idol'

American Idol fixture Ryan Seacrest could've filled a much different role on the singing competition series. During an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Seacrest told the talk show's namesake —and the inaugural Idol winner— that then-producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick envisioned the radio veteran for the original judges lineup before lining up Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.

"I guess Simon [Cowell] was already on board, and I don't know who else at that point," Seacrest told Clarkson. "And I was like, 'Well, wait a minute. I would love to audition to be the host.' And so I auditioned eventually to be the host. And I got the job. So, I'm happy to still have the job."

Seacrest preferred hosting in part because he feared falling back on old habits.

"The problem is I'm like in auto-host mode all the time, so I don't know that I'd be able to sit behind the desk and just give feedback," he added. "I'd want to do that, then toss to commercial. 'Welcome back. How are you?' ... and that would be too much."

Seacrest has been a host of American Idol ever since its 2002 debut. In that span, the judge lineup has changed numerous times and the show has switched networks, moving in 2018 from Fox to ABC.

Twenty-one years on the series has positioned Seacrest to see success story after success story for Idol hopefuls, beginning with Clarkson's pop culture emergence.

"They know that they can really be a big star. So now, when they're 8, 9 years old, they tell me they start training for the audition," Seacrest said of a generation raised watching the show. "So when they're of age to audition, they've rehearsed."

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