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Paula Abdul Dishes on the Idol Auditions

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Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

It just wouldn’t be American Idol without a little name-calling from Simon Cowell, now would it?

“He now calls Randy and I ‘Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.’ I’m Dee, Randy’s the Dum!” Paula Abdul told PEOPLE over the weekend at Lili Claire Foundation’s 10th Annual Benefit Dinner and Auction.

She says Cowell came up with the unflattering name during the audition process for the show’s upcoming season, which recently wrapped up.

“What’s happening is Randy and I have been agreeing on the talent as he disagrees,” says Abdul. “He thinks we don’t know what we’re talking about, and the truth is Randy and I do know what we’re talking about. It’s Randy and Paula against Simon. I’m on the winning side!” Despite the teasing, Abdul says that she and Cowell, who have a love-hate relationship, are getting along. “In the past couple of cities we’ve had no arguments. He’s still pestering me like hell, but we get along pretty well.”

Jackson, meanwhile, sums up Cowell’s attitude by saying: “He’s cranky.”

But the bright side is that the audition process has been “really, really good, I must say,” Jackson tells PEOPLE. “You still get the crazy buffoonery going on, but for the most it’s been pretty good. I would say somebody with skin and teeth is definitely going to win!”

And Abdul agrees. “Last season, I’m going to be real honest, I wasn’t as excited, I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t certain. As the season progressed it was fun to see how Jordin Sparks really came through, and she’s such an amazing kid. This season the auditions have some very, very exciting talent. All different–good-looking kids, crazy kids, great back stories, interesting backgrounds, and kids that really went out there, went out on a unique limb to be different and to capture our attention.”

Still, not everyone is hitting the right notes with the judges, Abdul concedes. “Oh God, there’s going to be one person who’s probably going to have a bigger career than William Hung, let me tell you!” –Jenny Sundel

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty