updated 04/06/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/07/2014 AT 12:20 PM ET
“I’m very excited. It’s my home away from home,” says the former Dancing pro-turned- actress about TV’s most popular ballroom.
“This season everybody is so great. We’re in the fourth week and everybody is really intriguing,” Hough says, admitting that serving as a judge can sometimes be just as nerve-racking as competing on the show.
“You go in trying to give constructive criticism, but when the nerves get to you, you sometimes put your foot in your mouth, which I have done in the past. So this is my do-over,” says the two-time DWTS champ – whose stint as a judge last season hit a notable snag.
In her critique of pro Mark Ballas and his partner Christina Milian, she told Milian to make sure not to stay in the background, because sometimes Ballas can overshadow his partners. Ballas was noticeably peeved on the live telecast.
“I didn’t mean for it to come out harsh. I could have probably said it a little differently,” Hough concedes, noting that she and Ballas, friends since childhood, “went to dinner together that night. That’s what’s hilarious about it.”
Hough, who’s currently in rehearsals with her brother, Dancing pro Derek Hough, for their 42-city Move Live On Tour that kicks off in May, says that, at the end of the day, she is empathetic to what the contestants are experiencing.
“I’ve been on that floor and I know how it feels, the adrenaline rush and all the hard work that’s put in throughout the week,” she says. “It’s really about the celebrity and focusing on them and telling them how they can improve for the next week.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.