It's Day 2 of the America's Got Talent auditions in St. Petersburg, Florida — the fifth stop along the way on this year's quest for an act worthy of the $1 million prize and Vegas marquee. Despite the suffocating humidity, long hours and some less-than-stellar performances, the judges — Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel and newcomer Howard Stern — are looking no worse for the wear. "This is the most fun job in the world!" says the self-proclaimed King of All Media, who's improbably expanding his empire this season to include one of TV's family-friendliest shows. The trio talked to TV Guide Magazine about what's in store when viewers tune in — and whether their G rating is in jeopardy.
TV Guide Magazine: Piers Morgan's departure isn't the first major shake-up the show's had....
Mandel: As Brandy once said...
Stern: What you're implying is no one can be better than David Hasselhoff. What Jerry Springer told me was what Regis told him... [Laughter]
Mandel: The show does keep reinventing itself. If you watched every week with a different group of people at your house, it would be a different kind of party. It's the same thing every time they change one of us up.
TV Guide Magazine: There's never a guarantee the chemistry is going to work — look at what happened on Idol with Ellen DeGeneres.
Stern: You don't know. I had a lot of trepidation going in because I love the show, and I didn't want to screw it up.
Mandel: I knew this was going to work. I'm a huge fan of this guy — I've listened to his radio show every day for years. When I heard they were bringing him in, I was excited. How can it go bad? Even with different opinions, we all respect each other.
Stern: Some shows will put on a phony rivalry thing — we are passionate about our opinions, but I never look at Howie or Sharon and say, "That's idiotic."
TV Guide Magazine: What's going to surprise audiences most about Howard?
Mandel: That people don't know who he is. Aside from being brutally honest and everything you'd expect, he's also a real three-dimensional human being. He can get emotional about things, which you would never dream. He takes it seriously, which I don't think people are ready for.
Osbourne: And I don't think people realize how much Howard knows about music — he really knows it inside out.
Stern: I've had hard-core fans say to me, "Oh you're a sellout, this is a G-rated show." I was excited by that challenge. It's not The Howard Stern Show; it's America's Got Talent, and I'm joining an ensemble. A lot of people who don't get my radio show will all of a sudden go, "Hey, he's being reasonable! And I'm enjoying watching him!" There are different sides to a person, and I don't feel I have to be the outrageous shock jock.
TV Guide Magazine: Tabloids have claimed that the other judges are resentful of Howard for stealing the spotlight. Is that true?
Osbourne: I resent the fact he's earning more than me! That's what pisses me off. The audience can idolize him — I want the same f---ing money.
Mandel: The answer to that is: All the animosity articles are bulls--t.
Stern: I called up Howie and said, "The New York Post is saying that you're seething with jealousy." Howie has been the complete opposite. He's the first one to come up to me and say, "You did a great job here."
Osbourne: It's really insulting because it's like, what do you think we are, kids? We're all businesspeople. Do people really think that we want to stay at the 15, 16 million viewer mark, where if we bring Howard on board we'll get 25, 30 million? Then maybe I'll get the same money as Howard!
Stern: Not a chance — it's in my contract.
TV Guide Magazine: How would you sum up your judging style, Howard?
Stern: I'm the rational one. The one America agrees with. You know how there's always the one person who says what you're thinking? I'm right 99 percent of the time.
The season premiere of America's Got Talent airs Monday, May 14 at 8/7c on NBC. For more on Howard Stern, download the digital edition of TV Guide Magazine on Thursday, available for Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook.