Jennifer Lopez admits World of Dance exceeded her expectations and is a dream come true heading into the NBC reality competition's second season.

"I started out as a producer on this show; I was never meant to be a judge," Jennifer told Gold Derby of World of Dance, which premieres its second season on May 29.

"We were trying to find the perfect panel, because coming from American Idol, I knew how important that was, doing it for five years... I really wanted to create a dance show, and that's what NBC and me were working on. And when this concept came up, I told them, 'Yes, this is the perfect concept.'"

Jennifer recalled, "We started producing the show and putting it together, and then almost like a month or two before we started, [NBC] was like, 'You know who's the perfect person for this?!'"

Jennifer confessed she "wasn't sure" if it was "the right time" to serve as a judge on a show after working on American Idol for several years.

"I didn't want to go back into judging so quickly. I had my series [Shades of Blue] and I had some movies that were coming up. I wasn't sure it was the right time. I had my Vegas residency, so there was a lot going on," Jennifer explained.

"But it's my show, and I want it to be the best it can be. I felt like, 'You know what? I have to do it. I have to do it'... So I was a producer. That was the original plan, and the judging came second."

Singer Ne-Yo and former Dancing with the Stars pro Derek Hough are the other members of the judging panel on World of Dance, which is hosted by Jenna Dewan.

And Jennifer said she is "super proud" of her team in front of and behind the cameras.

"I think we have one of the best crews that I've worked with. I've worked on a lot of different productions, but these guys, everybody loves the show so much. I think that's key, that people are really enjoying the work. We love coming to work," Jennifer gushed.

"We have an amazing, amazing set of producers. NBC is an amazing partner. Like, the whole thing! Sometimes the planets align and something kind of comes together in the perfect way. And this definitely was that."

As great as it is to be a judge, however, the panel must make extremely difficult cuts throughout the season.

Jennifer admitted it's "really hard" to eliminate such passionate dancers along the way, "especially with the kids."
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"Now we have two Junior Divisions. Last year, our Junior Division stood out so much that we broke it out into two -- into Groups and Individuals/Duos, just like we have in the Upper Division. Last year, we only had the three divisions... and Juniors was one big category, so we broke that into two," Jennifer revealed.

"And we do have our favorites. There are times when we don't want that person to go home, but at the end of the day, there is only one winner. It's a brutal competition... and these guys are going for it! It's sad and it's hard, but it's part of the journey."

Jennifer also explained the difference between judging a reality singing competition vs. a reality dancing show.

"It's just a different energy. The dancers, I knew this show would be a special show because I started as a dancer and I've been around dancers my whole life... It's a different breed than a singer. They do it, not for money, but really for the passion. There's really no endgame that's amazing for dancers... it's not a big money career. It's just not," Jennifer told Gold Derby.

"It's really about love and passion, and the comradery that dancers have. I know the biological, chemical, emotional, spiritual make up of a dancer, and I knew that would be compelling to watch. And you see so much heart. They are risk takers."

Jennifer said one thing she noticed on American Idol was the fact contestants were "so measured."

"'I'll do this, I won't do that. I'll sing this, I won't sing that,'" Jennifer elaborated. "Dancers just go out there and they go for it. I mean, we have seen death-defying things on this show that I cannot believe. I'm so nervous sometimes watching it but they leave it all out on the floor!"

When World of Dance premieres May 29 from 10-11PM ET/PT, Jennifer suggested there will be no shortage of talent and surprises.

"My original intention was to create an opportunity for the dancers not to be the backup dancers, but to actually be the real stars and earn their money and have their moment to shine," she noted.
About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.