Former 'American Idol' boss Nigel Lythgoe has hinted Simon Cowell should return to the show.

Simon was one of the original panel members of the show when it launched in 2002, alongside Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, but left to front rival show 'The X Factor' in 2011.

Nigel told E! online: ''That little team, Randy, Paula and Simon, again are the template for judges forever now.''

When it was suggested that TV network Fox - who have seen ratings for the show drop in recent years, despite high profile celebrity judges including Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj - could lure the original judges back on the show Nigel said ''maybe they should!''

Nigel has recently been fired as Executive Producer of the show, and although he is not taking the decision personally, admits it hurt.

He continued: ''Of course, and I'm saddened from that point of view. I suppose both Ken [Warwick] and myself, we created the production that then went worldwide and certainly created the results show, which was never in anybody's thoughts, until we came to America.

''And it feels like that's the template for many other reality shows now. So then to be asked to leave, it's then like, 'Oh wow.'''