"Ryan Seacrest drives the entire program. He's not on an earpiece or anything. He's not beholden to anybody directing the show. He controls the show, so he's really important," Lythgoe told TMZ of the Idol host, who's been with the show since its first season aired back in 2002.
"It would be very, very difficult to replace Ryan Seacrest... I'm not sure who we would ever replace him with."
Lythgoe went on to compliment Seacrest's talent and hosting ability.
"You only find out how good presenters are against each other. It looks really easy, like anybody can do it. But in truth, they can't. I mean, we've seen that with many other presenters on television," the Idol producer explained without getting too specific.
After noting how many presenters on other shows have experienced teleprompter issues or awkwardly waited for their cues to speak on live TV, Lythgoe said, "It slows the process down. It's unfair on them to be frank with you. It doesn't help the program."
Added the producer, "I'm [also] not a fan of two presenters. There's gotta be great team work there. They've got to know each other inside out."
However, Lythgoe explained that American Idol should always be able to run successfully regardless of whether Seacrest remains onboard or the judges get replaced every season.
"I've never believed that Idol, as a franchise, is beholden to any individual because everybody said it would die the minute Simon Cowell left, and it hasn't. So, no, I don't believe any one person makes American Idol," he told TMZ.
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