During an appearance on The Joy Behar Show, Dunkleman conceded that departing the Fox series was not a wise career move.
"I have what many people refer to as 'poor judgement'," he jested. "Listen, I'd like to say I was just young and stupid, but the truth is, I really wasn't that young."
The presenter also explained that he decided not to return for American Idol's second season because he wanted the freedom to pursue his interests in stand-up comedy and acting.
"The other thing was, I didn't like watching those kids being brought to tears like that. I didn't understand why they had to do it, I didn’t get it," he asserted.
After Dunkleman departed the series in 2002, Ryan Seacrest became American Idol's sole host.
American Idol airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox.