Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo Feel at Home on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

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Paula Abdul
makes her big comeback behind a judges' table!

The former American Idol judge will join veteran panelist Nigel Lythgoe on the judging panel for season 12 of So You Think You Can Dance and ET stopped by the New York City auditions to see her in action.

"In many ways, I feel like I never really left," Abdul said of the new gig. "I say I'm like a cousin to this show because I've been able to step in and guest judge."

WATCH: Paula Abdul's Fun New Dance Project Makes a Serious Point

"For many years now I've been pushing her to come on this show," Lythgoe, creator and executive producer of SYTYCD, told ET. "When I created So You Think You Can Dance I thought she was a natural fit being a singer/dancer and choreographer because that's really important to see the potential of these dancers not just what they're doing now."

Abdul, 52, has appeared on the Fox dance competition show in the past, but this marks her official return to reality TV and to the network since her eight-year run on American Idol from 2002 to 2009, and The X Factor in 2011.

"I don't have Simon sitting next to me on this," she said. "[But] I still have a British voice to the left of me." The award-winning choreographer added, "I'm happy to be back with the Fox family. It's like my home away from home."

Jason Derulo
, 25, who has appeared as a guest judge, also joins the revamped judges panel alongside Lythgoe and Abdul.

"I'm lucky to have my colleagues be vets because I'm fresh. I'm still we behind the ears!" Derulo admitted.

WATCH: Go Behind The Scenes of 'SYTYCD'

Lythgoe also told ET that the addition of the "Talk Dirty" singer is a sign of the new direction the show is taking. For the first time, the show is pitting classically trained dancers from the stage against more naturally taught dancers from the street.

"With this new exciting format we thought we should change up the judges as well because we weren't really focusing on [just] ballroom," Lythgoe explained. "So we brought in Jason Derulo who's of course a great singer and dancer and knows about the street scene."

The first round of auditions for Season 12 kicked off in New York City this weekend with open auditions at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom and Hammerstein Ballroom. Judges’ callbacks will take place on Jan. 25 and 26. Auditions continue in Dallas on Feb. 14; Detroit on Feb. 22; Memphis on March 8; and Los Angeles on March 15.

returns to Fox this summer.

Follow Denny on Twitter: @DDirecto