Former “Dancing With the Stars” regular Maksim Chmerkovskiy's will return to “DWTS” on Monday, but not as a dancer. The 33-year-old Ukrainian will make his judging debut and he’s excited to sit behind the infamous judge’s table.
"I never thought this would happen. I'm excited to be back," he told People. Chmerkovskiy developed a reputation on the show as sometimes being combative with the judges, but despite their impassioned exchanges he said there were never any hard feelings.
"We had our run-ins but it's like [my brother] Val and me. We are the closest of people and obviously get into arguments," he said. The professional dancer, who is dating the voluptuous Kate Upton, said the only time he ever fought with the judges was when he wanted to protect his teammate.
He told the news site that sometimes he felt the judges said things that “weren’t very just.” But on Monday night he will join Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli -- the three judges who once critiqued him and his partners on the dance floor.
Since Chmerkovskiy has been so opened about slamming the judges analyses in the past, he said he feels pressured “to avoid being a hypocrite.” But it still seems like the dancer is going to feel the judging eyes from Goodman, Inaba and Tonioli -- if not for his dance moves but for the advice he gives to the other competitors.
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"I have to be the person that I thought they should have been at the times I disagreed with their remarks," he said. "It will be interesting for me to see, 'Now you are in a position that you criticized before. Let's see you do better.'"
Chmerkovskiy, who last appeared on season 13 of the hit ABC show, said that viewers shouldn’t expect to see his fiery temper that made him famous come out from behind the judges table. "I'm not going to be as critical because someone's kicks aren't as crisp as they should be because I know who I am looking at and I see what their potential is," he said. "I will do my best with constructive criticism and with giving positive reinforcement."
The 33-year-old gushed over comedian Bill Engvall, and said he “isn’t the best dancer this season.” But Chmerkovskiy added, "There's something to be said about how much effort he puts into his performances."
Since Chmerkovskiy left the show he said “life is great” and even dished a little on his gorgeous 21-year-old girlfriend. "She is extremely intelligent. We talk about everything including politics," he said. "She’s got everything pretty much herself and I respect that. I love how she can go from being girly to being a businesswoman in the snap of a finger."
Check out "Dancing With The Stars" on ABC Monday at 8/7c.