“It was top-secret. His face was priceless. He did a double-take, it was hysterical,” Abdul told PEOPLE of leaving Cowell, 59, open-mouthed in shock.
“It was surreal. For a moment, I thought it was a look-alike,” the father of one said of the surprise.
“It was magical. It was as if we had never left,” Abdul told PEOPLE. “The chemistry is undeniable, that’s what’s made it always special. You can’t manufacture that. Right when the cameras were rolling, it was about telling the funniest stories, nothing but laughs and smiles.”
During the appearance, Cowell revealed that his “one wish” is to work with Abdul and Jackson again. Abdul told PEOPLE it was “very endearing” to hear Cowell say that, adding, “Randy and I are going to be meeting with Simon and hear what he has to say and what his ideas are.”
Cowell echoed similar sentiments. “We had an absolute blast [on the show]. Paula’s hilarious. I would like to work with her again. I do miss her,” he said.
The reunion marked the first time the trio had been together again and Abdul shared that the special occasion was especially for Clarkson.
“Kelly is doing an amazing job. It was just really great to pay homage to her from 17 years ago being the first Idol — look where her career has taken her,” said Abdul, who will be kicking off her Las Vegas residency.
Abdul’s Forever Your Girl concert series at the Flamingo debuts on Oct. 22.