Swedish TV producer Per Blankens named as new 'American Idol' executive producer

Swedish TV producer Per Blankens will replace Nigel Lythgoe as executive producer of "American Idol" next season, "Idol" producer FremantleMedia announced Monday.

Blankens has acted as showrunner on Sweden's version of the reality singing competition for five seasons. "He is extremely passionate about 'Idol' and I'm very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping 'Idol' creatively vibrant," Trish Kinane, an executive producer for Fremantle, said in a statement. "He brings the talent and energy needed to keep 'American Idol' strong."

In addition to "Idol," Blankens also oversaw production on the Swedish versions of "Master Chef" and "The Biggest Loser."

Lythgoe on Monday also issued a statement addressing his departure from the show. "Over the years, I believe we have changed the face of American television forever and eventually created a true global  phenomenon," the statement reads in part. "It has been inspiring to find and launch the careers of artists ranging from Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and many more, spanning all musical styles and genres. I am truly saddened to be leaving a great team of friends and colleagues."

Added Lythgoe: "If the executives that are now in charge of 'American Idol' believe that the ratings will improve with my departure,  I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I've loved every moment of it."

Auditions for "American Idol's" 13th season, which premieres in January, begin next month.

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