17 January 2013 5:08 PM, PST | TVLine.com | See recent TVLine.com news »

American Idol is back, and while Season 12′s initial numbers may be down compared to last year, Fox’s reality boss Mike Darnell insists he’s not worried. He’s got a buzzy new panel of judges, ideas for fresh theme nights, and a Susan Boyle-esque audition at his disposal over the next few months.

TVLine caught up with Darnell to talk about Idol‘s early returns, the idea of limiting viewer votes, and the challenge of making sure A-list judges can still excel at their jobs once the live telecasts begin.

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