"Being a seasoned professional, we know how the show works," Hough says

By Dahvi Shira
Updated October 25, 2011 11:25 AM
Credit: Amy Graves/WireImage, Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Maksim Chmerkovskiy has a reputation for speaking his mind on Dancing with the Stars. But Monday night’s verbal attack on judge Len Goodman shocked even Derek Hough.

“I was personally extremely surprised,” Hough, 26, told PEOPLE backstage shortly after the debacle that went down when Goodman, 67, told Chmerkovskiy, 31, and partner Hope Solo – who received a total score of 20 – that they performed their “worst dance of the season.”

“I feel like the judges have been incredibly generous,” Hough said. “But we’re all very emotional.”

Hough says Chmerkovskiy, who suggested Goodman’s 50 years in the ballroom business might be too long, shouldn’t be surprised by the judges’ negative critique.

“Being a seasoned professional, we know how the show works,” he said. “We understand the ins and outs. Even last week, I pretty much told Ricki [Lake] exactly what the judges were going to say, literally verbatim. You know what to expect.”

Chmerkovskiy left the ballroom stunned after his exchange with Goodman. Even Carrie Ann Inaba told him to be “respectful” of the head judge. Later, Chmerkovskiy claimed responsibility for ABC’s hit series, calling it “my show,” adding that he helped “make it what it is.”