The 63-year-old originally hinted that he'd be departing the NBC series after Season 10 in 2015 because he just had too much on his plate.
"I’m going through my own career evaluation right now… I'm just too f–king busy," he said at the time. "This year, doing America’s Got Talent, doing the radio show, something’s got to give. NBC’s already asked me what my intentions are for next year, whether or not I would come back. I kind of told them, ‘I think this is my last season.’"
In a farewell video played during the Season 10 finale, Howard raved about his time mentoring up-and-coming talent. "I thought it would be really cool to be a judge, because I think I have something to offer," he stated. "If I had any dream about this, it’s that I could take someone who was struggling and seriously give advice."
Howard with his fellow Season 10 judges.
He continued, "I did the most shocking thing of my career — I was on a family show. I’ll go to a restaurant and parents will bring over their 10 year olds to sit on my lap to take a picture. I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ It’s kind of funny to me because this never happened to me in my career."
The father-of-three added, "I’ve had such incredible moments on this show, I really have. I still get chills when I walk out on the stage. It has been phenomenal."
AGT, which is currently in its 12th season, now features judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Mel B, and Heidi Klum. Former supermodel Tyra Banks recently took over hosting duties from Nick Cannon, who had been with the program for eight years.