Lionel Richie Says Katy Perry Is a 'Little Calmer' After Engagement — 'But She's Still Katy!'

Janine Rubenstein

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan have become closer than ever, thanks to American Idol.

“It’s a family affair,” the music legend says of working with his fellow judges along with Ryan Seacrest who hosts the rebooted show, now in its second season on ABC.

Thus after Perry revealed boyfriend Orlando Bloom had popped the question in February, Richie picked up on some slight differences in his colleague’s demeanor.

(Eric Liebowitz via Getty Images)

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“I think she’s gotten a tad bit more comfortable and a little calmer because of the engagement. I think so,” Riche says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, “but still when the cameras are running she turns into ‘Katy.'”

Richie says his co-judge is truly one of a kind. “Always remember something with Katy, what she considers norm is so far out of norm,” he says. “That’s in her DNA.”

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When it comes to both Perry and Bryan, “I never in my wildest dreams that I would ever think that I would be the adult in the room,” says Richie, 69. “There’s always a side of me that goes, ‘No. I’m the crazy guy, I’m the one who’s the silly one.’ [But] when you get with Katy and Luke, I’m the adult in the room.”

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Richie admits that coming on board for Idol did make him nervous in the beginning, but he’s glad he took the leap.

Sami Drain

“There’s an expression that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ When I walked on that Idol stage for the first time with Katy and Luke, I was clearly out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what they were going to do or say, and my worst nightmare is they said everything that I never would on television.”

He continues, “But I’m having so much fun. People ask me, ‘When are you going to retire?’ My answer is, ‘From what?’ This is not a job; this is a great hobby that keeps on getting better.”

For more on Lionel Richie, pick up this week’s issue on PEOPLE, on newsstands now.