Nikki Bella on Judging 'AGT: Extreme' with Simon Cowell and Travis Pastrana: 'I Was Very Intimidated'

AGT: Extreme premieres on Monday at 8 p.m ET on NBC

americas got talent
From left: Simon Cowell, Terry Crews, Nikki Bella and Travis Pastrana. Photo: Eliza Morris/NBC

Nikki Bella is gearing up for her next adventure!

Ahead of Monday's premiere of NBC's America's Got Talent: Extreme, Bella, 38, spoke to PEOPLE about sharing the judging panel with Simon Cowell and professional stunt performer Travis Pastrana — and why it was "very" intimidating.

"My experience so far has been absolutely incredible, way more than I expected," the Total Bellas star said. "When the opportunity came to me, I was super excited just to know that these people with these incredible crafts and talents now finally get a platform to showcase that. And to know that I get to judge that, I just was, 'Okay, this is a match made in heaven.' "

"And then to know that I'm sharing the judging panel with Simon Cowell and Travis Pastrana, I'm not going to lie, at first I was very intimidated," she recalled. "Then it was like instant chemistry with them and [host] Terry Crews on top of it, I learned a lot. I laughed a lot. I even cried. But it was an amazing time and it was really neat to go through. I mean, Travis is a king of extreme, and there's no more iconic judge than Simon Cowell."

Nikki Bella
Eliza Morse/NBC

Reflecting on the first time she met the "iconic" Cowell, Bella said she did everything she could to calm her nerves.

"I remember I was on the car ride over, just super intimidated," she said. "I'm listening to meditation music because I'm going in as a judge for the first time next to Simon. I just wanted to give my best, give my all. From the moment that I met him, he was so down to earth and humble and gave Travis and me amazing advice, he was very inviting."

The mom of one added, "I wasn't expecting that. I was just shocked in a way. I got so comfortable and I was like, 'All right, let's do this.' But it was from the first moment I met Simon. He's so conversational and just not what I thought. The one thing that I've realized about Simon is, even when his judging is harsh, he truly appreciates everyone's, not only their talent, but their bravery of getting on that stage. Whether that's the home show, AGT, or our show, AGT: Extreme, you could just tell he truly, really appreciates everyone coming on that stage and giving their all."

NBC first announced its plans for the spinoff show in May 2021. The network later described the series as "the most outrageous, unique and jaw-dropping acts of enormous scale and magnitude that simply cannot be confined to a theater stage."

In October, it was revealed that Cowell, Bella and Pastrana would be judging the show, while Crews would serve as host.

Later that month, NBC temporarily halted production on the series after stunt performer Jonathan Goodwin was hospitalized following a rehearsal stunt gone wrong. Goodwin, who made it to the semifinal round on season 15 of AGT, later spoke out about the accident, saying he had "a long road to recovery" ahead of him.

Similar to the original series, AGT: Extreme will bring contestants head-to-head each week to compete for a $500,000 prize and the title of champion.

AGT: Extreme premieres on Monday at 8 p.m ET on NBC.

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