By People Staff
Updated May 11, 2009 12:00 AM
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Credit: Stephen J. Boitano/AP

The competition isn’t over but American Idol‘s Randy Jackson is already predicting a winner.

Adam Lambert is definitely the lead winner if we had to choose today. He’s got the vocal chops, he’s a good-looking guy like myself, and he’s got that star potential,” Jackson said of the “fearless” performer. “I think it’s going to come down to him and Danny Gokey in the finale.”

Jackson, who served as the official ambassador for Amtrak’s National Train Day in Washington D.C. on Saturday, didn’t stop there with his predictions, telling PEOPLE he expects judge Kara DioGuardi to return to the judges’ panel next year: “I think everybody will be back. I think you will see the returning cast.”

DioGuardi has said that she wasn’t sure she’d be back, but Simon Cowell told Ellen DeGeneres DioGuardi would return even though he doesn’t like the crowded four-person panel.

As for DioGuardi’s recent revelation that she struggled with an eating disorder, Jackson said he learned with the rest of the world, but commended her for going public. “Any struggle with any of that sort of stuff is really tough,” he said of DioGuardi. And while he hasn’t offered any words of encouragement, another judge had some choice advice: “Simon wanted her to have some doughnuts. He’s always the crazy man!”

Jackson, who had gastric bypass surgery in 2003, also spoke about his own struggle with food, telling PEOPLE, he continues to “try to set realistic goals” when it comes to his health.

Jackson maintains his weight loss with a new state of mind that emphasizes moderation when it comes to eating — and having fun when it comes to exercise. “I hate the word diet. I hate the word exercise. That’s why I probably love playing tennis, because at least I feel like I’m playing a game,” he says. “Or if I do work out, it’s either yoga or pilates. I try and make it fun and enjoyable and make it part of every day like taking a shower and brushing your teeth,” explains Jackson, who credits the surgery to teaching him “portion control.”

Those portions are now meat free, since the Idol judge is now a vegetarian. He doesn’t “eat that much cheese” and sticks to “a little more of a raw food diet.” But having grown up in Louisiana, he admits to “miss sometimes” one southern staple: fried foods. — Arnesa A. Howell

Stephen J. Boitano/AP