Howie Mandel currently has the longest tenure of any other America's Got Talent judge or host

By Karen Mizoguchi
May 27, 2019 12:00 PM
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Many judges and hosts have come through America’s Got Talent, but one celebrity has outlasted them all: Howie Mandel.

When season 14 premieres on May 28, the comedian, 63, will make history as the star with the longest tenure of any other judge or host, with 10 consecutive seasons.

“The first word that comes to mind is unbelievable. I would never have dreamed that I would be here 10 years,” Mandel tells PEOPLE of his time on the hit NBC series, which he started in 2010 on season 4 after replacing David Hasselhoff as one of the judges.

“I was a fan of this show from the premiere and I had seen some amazing talent. I’m fascinated by anybody and anything that’s willing to get on stage and try to conjure an audience reaction,” the father of three says.

Though he attributes his success to being “gorgeous and authentic, Mandel also says: “I think if I had to put one word on why NBC keeps me on the show, I would say affordable. I would like other people to know I’m affordable. It doesn’t cost you that much, I’ll show up.”

The star, who also hosts CNBC’s Deal or No Deal, jokingly adds, “I do accept coupons. I think that the people of NBC are part of the Groupon deal and I think I’m part of one of that purchase.”

Throughout the 14 seasons of AGT, many stars have signed on to be a judge, including Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne, Mel B and Heidi Klum, with celebs like Regis Philbin, Jerry Springer, Nick Cannon and Tyra Banks serving as hosts.

Of all the past personalities, Mandel says he keeps in contact with Stern, Klum Osbourne and Cannon, whom he calls the “hardest working man in show business” and an “inspiration.”

Mandel has been a constant factor in the ratings triumph of the series that will arguably increase with the latest season welcoming new judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough as well as Champions host Terry Crews.

“It’s nothing to do with anything near me, everything to do with the stage,” Mandel says of AGT‘s success.

“Those moments of relatability, empathy, excitement, dreams coming true, golden confetti are just the formula for success. It fires on every possible spark plug that you can fire; it is emotional, it’s exciting, you laugh, you cry, you scream, you’re angry, you’re scared, you bite your nails,” he explains. “I promise you there’s something totally different. And I think that’s what makes our show work and what makes the show continue to work. I think that’s why we’re in our 14th season — I think I have very little to do with that.”

With 10 seasons under his belt, Mandel is nothing but excited for what the future brings him, potentially even more seasons on AGT.

“My entire career and my entire life has not been a plan, and I love that I am at a job that I absolutely love. I just like being here,” he shares.

“What tomorrow brings I don’t know. You don’t even know if there is a tomorrow. So I live in the now and I say yes to every opportunity. I can make plans but you don’t know what the world deals you and how those plans,” Mandel continues.

“I never dreamed I was gonna be a judge. I never dreamed I would be a comedian. I never dreamed I’d be an actor. I never dreamed I would be living in California,” he admits. “It’s not dreams, they’re real life. These aren’t even my dreams. They’re my reality. And I just let it happen.”

As for what he’s been most shocked so far in season 14, Mandel teases a “jaw-dropping” golden buzzer moment.

“It’s not mine, but there’s probably the most shocking, jaw-dropping moment in a golden buzzer that I’ve ever seen and who would dream that would be in season 14 and 10 years into my career as a judge?” he says. “That’s just kind of emblematic of this, I can’t believe it. And I say this same thing every year: just when I think I’ve seen everything I’m so blown away by the feeling I ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Season 14 of America’s Got Talent premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m.