Credit: ABC

Dancing With the Stars 2013 has been great fun, but there's no question that Season 16 is lacking a certain something: Maksim Chmerkovskiy! The fact that the beloved, if controversial, pro isn't competing this season sparked a bit of a furor amongst fans and the media. What did Maks think about all of the speculation surrounding his departure?

"Look, I never left," the outspoken pro told E! when asked what it was like to be back for Week 5. He added that it was "interesting" to hear all of the speculation about why he's not on this season. "It was funny to watch people say 'he was fired,' other people say 'he quit,' which is — neither one is true."

"Certain relationships are staying behind closed doors," he added cryptically. "This is family, you know? Aside from Val, this is my family. It's been a lot of fun."

He ended on an upbeat note, calling the idea for the side-by-side challenge "fantastic," because it's a good way to get more dancing into the show without overwhelming the stars.

For more from the cast, including a choked up Tom Bergeron talking about Boston, check out the interviews here.

Catch the next episode of Dancing With the Stars on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Source: E!

Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.