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Luke Bryan has been sitting beside Katy Perry and Lionel Richie at the “American Idol” judges table for a few months now. They’ve been criss-crossing the country filming auditions for the new season, premiering next month on ABC, and Luke has been learning the ins and outs of offering feedback to the contestants.

He tells Rare Country, “Sometimes when you try to politely deliver the truth, you can sometimes sound even more rude and terrible. I’ve done that a couple times.”

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What makes it even more difficult is that the families of the “Idol” hopefuls are waiting outside after Luke and his fellow judges make their decision.

We're ready for March 11. Are you? #AmericanIdol

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“That’s the tough thing, when you tell people no,” Luke says. “Their family, when you tell them yes and they open the door, it’s like a party.”

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Overall, Luke thinks he and Lionel and Katy are doing a really good job at being encouraging to the contestants whether or not they get that golden ticket to Hollywood.

“What we’re dealing with mostly is 16-year-old kids that can sing, they just don’t know what they are yet,” Luke says. “They’re good singers, and they need a few years. We’re just trying to encourage people to keep staying with music, but [saying] ‘You’re not ready yet.’ We use that term, ‘Not ready.’”

Sometimes the contestants just need the judges to point their talents in another direction. Luke gives us an example of one very talented girl who just headed down the wrong track.

He says, “She was convinced that she sang like Mariah Carey. So, she began to sing a Mariah Carey song, and I abruptly stopped her and let her know she would never be Mariah Carey. She could sing, just not like Mariah. Pick another lane.”

Luke’s time as a judge on “American Idol” is also making him a more effective boss with his own team back in Nashville.

He tells us, “After ‘Idol,’ I’m really going to be able to fire people with no emotion. Just like, ‘Yeah, you’re not good enough. You’re fired. Walk through the door, and your family won’t be there to enjoy your disappointment!’”

Luke’s only kidding, folks! We all know he’s just a big softie at heart.

You can see how Luke, Katy and Lionel handle their judging duties when “American Idol” premieres March 11 on ABC.

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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