Country star John Rich took an opportunity to promote Nashville Star's sixth season at the expense of American Idol.

"American Idol infuriates me as an artist," Rich said at NBC's "All-American Summer" press day in Pasadena, CA on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter

"We have to respect the fans' ears and eyes and give them something that's for real.  Don't try to con them. And I think that's why American Idol, in my opinion, is just dive-bombing. I can't stand watching it. I wouldn't want to be on that show now if you gave me a $100 bill."

The country artist specifically pointed to judge Paula Abdul's much-publicized confusion during last Tuesday night's live performance episode as an example that Idol is contrived. 

During the broadcast, Abdul critiqued two Jason Castro performances after the Idol seventh-season finalist had only performed once -- apparently basing her on-air comments on the contestant's rehearsal of a song that he had yet to perform live.

"She wasn't even paying attention to what was going on," said Rich, who also took Idol to task for not explaining the gaffe, according to The Reporter

"They're being fake about it. When you can't make a cognizant comment about someone's performance and you're commenting on something that happened the day before, why don't you just walk up onstage and slap them right across the face while you're at it? As an artist, I would just flip them the bird and walk off the stage."

Rich added he's sure Abdul is a "fine lady" but still thought Tuesday night's incident was a "very, very disrespectful thing."

"It's not a problem of [a judge] being tough on somebody," he explained, Entertainment Weekly reported.  "You've got to be tough on people and be honest with them. But you've got to respect these people. This is their entire life hanging by a thread."

While Rich may be overstating Idol's overall 10% seventh-season ratings decline by claiming the Fox mega-hit is "dive-bombing," some of its recent broadcasts have recorded five-year lows.

"The reason their ratings are going into the toilet right now is because the American public cannot stand when it comes to reality," said Rich, according to The Reporter. "You can tell when somebody's comment was scripted. You can tell when they told an artist, 'Wear this, and sing that, and do that.' That's not the way it's going to work on [Nashville Star]."

Rich will have the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is for Nashville Star's sixth season, in which he'll serve as a judge and mentor with former fifth-season host Jewel and songwriter and producer Jeffrey Steele.  In addition, Rich will write and produce the sixth-season winner's debut single.
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Nashville Star's sixth season -- the first to air on NBC after its first five seasons aired on USA --  will premiere Monday, June 9 at 9:30PM ET/PT.

Not surprisingly, Fox didn't let Rich's Idol bashing go without a response.

"John Rich's ungentlemanly and opportunistic comments are particularly disturbing considering the fact he attended a taping of American Idol last April, told producers, judges and performers he enjoyed himself and also did an interview with a crew from American Idol Extra where he was extremely complimentary toward the show," said Fox in a statement, according to The Reporter.