Paula Abdul has announced she is stepping down as a judge on American Idol.

The 47-year-old singer and record producer – who has appeared on the hit talent show with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson since it began in 2002 – announced on social networking site Twitter: “With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to American Idol.

“I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day one become an international phenomenon.”

She added: “What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me.

“It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month. I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all.”

No reason is given for Paula’s decision, which comes just two days before the show is about to begin shooting its ninth series, with auditions starting on Thursday in Denver.

The show returns on the air in January.

Fox television said in a statement: “Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show.

“While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

People.com reports the announcement comes shortly after her manager claimed there was no contract on the table and that ‘sadly’ it didn’t appear she would be returning.

In the last series Simon, Randy and Paula were joined by new judge Kara DioGuardi, who is confirmed to return.