Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger are out, but Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid is in.

Reid has reportedly signed a contract guaranteeing his return for season 2 of the wildly popular singing competition.

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A source tells The Hollywood Reporter Reid became an audience favorite because of his candid (some call mean) opinions of contestants.

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Fellow judge Abdul maintains that, despite getting a pink slip last week, she’s still friends with the show’s creator, Simon Cowell. “Simon is, and will remain, a dear friend of mine and I’ve treasured my experience working this past season,” Abdul said in a statement.

So, who will be taking Abdul and Scherzinger’s seats? The show’s producers deny earlier reports that Cowell had approached Beyonce, but add that Mariah Carey is a possibility.