"You never really know what you're gonna get, but I'm always pleasantly surprised," Jackson told Zap2it.com. "These are people wearing their souls on their sleeves. They haven't learned to play the game yet, so you're seeing raw talent."
After a few months' downtime, Jackson and judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell oversaw another round of auditions for another "Idol" that began in Los Angeles. The results will air this season, which began Tuesday.
"All of them have had shots at careers, and that's the thing no one is guaranteed today," said Jackson, who before his "Idol" gig performed with Journey and was a vice president at Columbia Records, then at MCA Records. Among the acts Johnson recorded with, toured with and/or produced for were Mariah Carey, Madonna, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Destiny's Child and *NSYNC.