updated 11/15/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/18/2013 AT 7:30 AM ET
“I never thought this would happen. I’m excited to be back,” he says.
The fiery dancer, who often went toe-to-toe with the judges, insists there was never any bad blood between them.
“We had our run-ins but it’s like [my brother] Val and me. We are the closest of people and obviously get into arguments,” he says.
Chmerkovskiy, 33, says he was only passionate about protecting his teammate against the judges when he “felt that some things weren’t very just.” And now that he’s joining Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli on the panel, the pressure is on “to avoid being a hypocrite” after slamming their judging style.
“I have to be the person that I thought they should have been at the times I disagreed with their remarks,” he says. “It will be interesting for me to see, ‘Now you are in a position that you criticized before. Let’s see you do better.’”
Chmerkovskiy, who appeared on 13 seasons of Dancing with the Stars, says viewers shouldn’t be expecting him to take his hot-headed attitude to his judge’s chair.
“I’m not going to be as critical because someone’s kicks aren’t as crisp as they should be because I know who I am looking at and I see what their potential is,” he says. “I will do my best with constructive criticism and with giving positive reinforcement.”