"You have to walk away when the time is right, and the time was right," he says about his exit following his season 18 win with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis. "I think the change of guard is necessary. Like a plant that in order to improve growth, you have to pull branches. It’s the same thing. Every now and again, everything needs to be refreshed."
He also claims fan favorite Derek Hough is on his way out.
"Me, Cheryl, Karina, the few of us leaving, I think this might be one of the last times we see Derek," Maksim adds. "We've moved on, and the show is still where it is. You have people like Peta and Val, who kind of became faces of the show, and let’s see what happens. I hope the show stays for another 10 years, and we'll come celebrate it when we're a lot older."
As for the rumors that he's back together with fellow DWTS pro Peta Murgatroyd after the two were spotted holding hands earlier this month at Craig's in West Hollywood, Calif., Maksim remains guarded.
"We're cool," he says about their current status. "We're just older. I guess things happen differently when you're older and time's passed and things have happened. I am a very intelligent guy, contrary to what it might seem. [Laughs] I feel different now because we're different."