Paula Abdul: No One Can Replace Me on 'American Idol'

Abdul says "I don't think anyone" could take her place as judge on the hit show.

ByABC News
April 16, 2009, 2:24 PM

April 23, 2009— -- Call her the unsinkable Paula Abdul. During eight seasons of "American Idol" there have been over 300 episodes filmed, thousands of ambitious contestants judged and jilted, and any number of controversies involving judge Abdul.

The award-winning choreographer and recording artist has helped make "American Idol" the number one show in the U.S., with 20 million people tuning in each week. From week one, Abdul has played the role of the "nice" judge, the person to whom contestants can turn for a kind word when the notoriously tough -- some might even say nasty -- Simon Cowell pounces.

"This is my last season under contract," she told "Nightline" in an exclusive interview. "I love the show, I do. I love what I do on the show and I'm loving it more this season than ever."

And whatever the future holds, don't count her out.

"Don't bet against me," she said, "because the most powerful kryptonite I possess is the connection with the people."

Extensive interviews with Abdul are rare, but "Nightline" was invited backstage with her before sitting down for a wide-ranging conversation.

"This is where we all congregate right before the show," Abdul said backstage at CBS Television City, where the "Idol" finals are shot. "And then the judges, we walk up behind the curtains and the doors open up ... and Simon grabs my hand and messes with me."

Cowell has played Abdul's foil, supporter and tormenter on the hit show.

"I'm not nervous," Abdul said before the show. "I'm more nervous about what he is going to try to do to mess me up. ... I've been the Raggedy Ann to his Andy."