Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has every confidence that both Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi will ink new deals to continue on as judges for Season 9.

"I do. I don't have any reason to believe otherwise," Seacrest told TVGuide.com on Thursday.

After all, is it even really Idol without unpredictable Paula? "For me, no," Seacrest said. "I love having Paula on the show. She has become a very good friend."

In recent weeks, Abdul has been juggling exploratory meetings about headlining a Las Vegas show with ongoing discussions about her Idol future.

"She and Fox are still talking," Abdul's rep told TVGuide.com, pointing out that a decision doesn't need to be made until the judges hit the road to attend auditions sometime in August. A spokesperson for Idol would not comment on the judges' contracts.

DioGuardi, meanwhile, has braved the sticky wicket that is joining a popular program in its eighth season. As a result, she was thoroughly judged by millions of viewers.

"The rest of us are used to it, because we've done it for so many years," Seacrest said, "but for someone who's never been on television and never been in a situation like it... I give Kara a lot of credit for having thick skin, showing up every day, having a smile on her face and doing a good job."

With Idol now in its ninth season — auditions got underway June 14, in Foxborough, Mass., and continued June 18 in Atlanta — Seacrest looks forward to having the exact same judges seated before him in January.

"Obviously, all of us have been through so much together as a unit on the show, so to look down and see one less, of any of them, really wouldn't feel the same," he said. "It might throw us off."

As for why we never hear about the Idol host's own contract travails, Seacrest said this: "Ah, keep your eyes peeled."

That's right, the man who so expertly runs the show is entering the final year of his own deal.

Relive your favorite American Idol moments with American Idol Rewind, airing Friday evenings on TV Guide Network.(Check TVGuide.com listings for times.)