Jay Leno on Leaving ‘Tonight Show’ Gig: ‘It’s Not My Decision’

Jay Leno is handing over «The Tonight Show» torch to Jimmy Fallon on February 17th, something he has come to terms with but is acknowledging for the first time that it was not his decision to exit.

The 63-year-old is breaking his silence in an interview with «60 Minutes» airing this Sunday about NBC’s decision to have Jimmy Fallon host the late-night show.

«It’s not my decision,» he revealed. «I think I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have an extremely qualified young guy ready to jump in.»

Still, he still doesn’t seem to have any hard feelings for his successor. «I probably would have stayed a little longer, but we have a very talented, very good, I think he’s more like a young Johnny than anybody since,» he said. «So you go with the new guy; makes perfect senseto me.»

The car enthusiast may not be bent out of shape about leaving this time around, but he didn’t seem to feel the same about what happened in 2009, when NBC decided to replace him with Conan O’Brien. The comedian admitted that he felt blindsided, and he compared it to feeling a lot like a breakup.

«I was blindsided. … [NBC executives said] ‘You’re out…’ and I went ‘OK,'» he said, about the first time he learned Conan would be taking over. «You know, you have a girl [who] says, ‘I don’t want to see you anymore.’ Why? You know, she doesn’t want to see you anymore, OK?»

Check out this video to hear what else the late-night host revealed about handing over the mike to Jimmy Fallon, and tune in to «The Insider» tonight for the latest in entertainment news.