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MAY
21
2 YEARS

'American Idol': Jimmy Iovine Wants Jennifer Lopez to Stay

The tough-love mentor hopes the show's lone female judge will stay put, rather than make a speedy exit, after season 11's finale.

Jimmy Iovine in the studio - P 2012
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Beats By Dr. Dre

As American Idol winds down to its 11th season finale this week, another question looms besides whether Jessica Sanchez or Phillip Phillips will take home the crown. The second biggest head-scratcher: will Jennifer Lopez return next year?

Last week, reports began circulating that Lopez might abdicate her throne as the sole female judge on the Idol panel, leaving just Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. Among the J-Lo fans who would be mightily disappointed: Jimmy Iovine, Interscope chief and tough-love guide to contestants.

"She's incredible, I hope she does it again," he said Monday in a press conference. "I know nothing about this. ... I just mentor the kids and do my thing. And Jennifer's wonderful. Funny and beautiful and talented. So I hope they keep her."

Added Iovine: "I am low in the totem pole. I don't get to make these decisions about the judges."

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Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told THR on Thursday that he didn't know whether Lopez will return, but believed the issue of her possible departure would get resolved in the near future.

“Fox and Fremantle have been concentrating on X Factor since, for them, it’s the next big program, along with getting the upfront out of the way. Now they’re getting to talk about Idol," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sanchez-Phillips season finale kicks off with a set of last-ditch performances on Tuesday and the final result announced Wednesday.

VIDEO: 'American Idol': Jennifer Lopez Wishes She Could Mentor More

Iovine said Sanchez, the 16-year-old wunderkind with the powerhouse voice, needs to score a perfect "10" on each performance.

"The tone, the range, her poise, she has every chance to win this thing," he said. "Those voices don't come around every day, There just aren't any voices like that."

At the same time, Phillips -- the 21-year-old Georgia singer-songwriter and TV eye candy -- has one very distinct (and, some would argue, unfair) advantage over Sanchez: he is a cute boy.

"Phillip is an unusual artist to get this far on Idol," said Iovine. "I believe in him a lot, and I think he has crazy charisma."