*Hours after rumors of an “American Idol” judging panel overhaul hit the web on Thursday, original judge Randy Jackson announced that he is leaving the show after the current season ends.
“Yo! Yo! Yo! To put all of the speculation to the rest, after 12 years of judging on ‘American Idol,’ I have decided to leave after this season,” he said in a statement, released through his representative.
Along with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, the musician and producer was one of three judges when the Fox show debuted in 2002. Jackson is the last original judge with Abdul’s departure and then Cowell’s several seasons ago.
Ratings have decreased in recent years, as the show’s producers have tried several new judges — this season’s include Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj — to join Jackson.
In his statement Thursday, Jackson said he was “very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry.”
“It’s been a life-changing opportunity, but I am looking forward to focusing on my company, Dream Merchant 21, and other business ventures,” he added.