Ellen DeGeneres called American Idol's ninth-season Hollywood Week hopefuls a "great, eclectic group" -- however she was also surprised at "how little experience some of the have."

"It's like they're literally coming out of a job and they just have a good voice and they've never really auditioned before," the new American Idol judge said during a Tuesday appearance on show host Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show.

"That's a really hard process for someone who's never auditioned before, to get a harsh taste of reality of hearing harsh criticism or no. Anybody whose come up through the business, you're used to rejection."

DeGeneres added making matters even more difficult is that she can't teach the season's soon-to-be-revealed semifinalists "experience."

"Hopefully these people that we've put through learn very quickly to gain that kind of confidence that usually only comes through experience," she told Seacrest.

"That's the one thing I can bring to this show: I know what it feels like to stand on stage and try to impress a roomful of people and I know what it's like to wait for feedback."

While American Idol's ninth-season "Hollywood Round" filmed last month, it doesn't begin airing until tonight -- representing DeGeneres' first stint on the judging panel after being tapped to replace Paula Abdul in September.

DeGeneres also reiterated her previous comments that she wants to be "honest" so the contestants can "hear the truth and not be disillusioned."

"At the same time, I'm careful to not really hurt their feelings because I know what that feels like," she explained to Seacrest, adding it's a balance that's "always tough."

"So I do tend to be compassionate in that place. At the same time, I want to be really, really honest. Sometimes the best way for me to be honest is to use humor. I think I'm going to try to cushion it with humor and at the same time not belittle the situation."

Much has been made about how DeGeneres will mix with Simon Cowell and -- while she acknowledged it's "going to be a challenge" -- she said the relationship has gotten off to a good start... mostly.

"I think he's a funny guy and I think he's a smart guy. In like Simon -- like on Wednesdays I like him. I forget which day. I liked him on one day [during Hollywood Week]. I know that," she joked.
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"He's Simon and I'm me, and we're both completely different people. So I think it's going to be --as they say -- good television. It will be totally different styles and we'll see how it goes."

In addition, DeGeneres said fellow judges Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson have both been "great" so far and she thinks all four of them are going to have "a lot of fun."

"We're completely different. We couldn't be more different in style," she said about the panel. "That's going to be an interesting show and it's also going to be something for me to be able to play with."

DeGeneres is excited to see the edited Hollywood Week episodes, however she told Seacrest she's more excited for the first semifinals performance show broadcast on February 23.

"I love being live. That's sort of where I thrive. That's going to be fun for me. It'll be interesting," she said.

"I can't wait to experience that -- being there -- because I'm such a huge fan and I've watched from home. So to be in that energy, I'm looking forward to it."

Although DeGeneres had to rearrange the filming schedule for her The Ellen DeGeneres Show to accommodate her new American Idol role, she feels that she's up for it.

"I like a challenge, so this will be a good challenge," she said.