The moustache is back! After an intense negotiation that had many fans worrying whether their favorite character was gone for good, Victor Newman, aka Eric Braeden, finally re-appeared at the end of today’s episode of The Young and the Restless (to relive the moment, click here). EW talked exclusively to Braeden about being back on TV’s No. 1 daytime drama and what fans can expect now that the boss is back.

EW: What was your first day back like on the set?

Eric Braeden: It was actually very nice. It started with the security guys at the gate who welcomed me back. And there was a special welcome back sign in my parking place. The crew throughout the day was very nice…they even came from other shows. It was very nice, very humbling.

Did anyone think you weren’t coming back at all?

Yes, some people thought that I wouldn’t. They were afraid I wouldn’t. Others said they knew I’d be back.

How long is your new contract for?

Three years.

How do you feel about the way head writer Maria Bell brought Victor back?

I feel very good about Maria, period. She’s done a wonderful job and I liked what she intends to do. If had not talked to her, I would not have come back. She had a great deal to do with it. So did (CBS Corp CEO) Les Moonves.

Did Les call you personally?

We talked at the very end (of the negotiations). He has been very loyal and has been a friend. If I had thought they (CBS and Y&R’s home studio, Sony) were united, I would have been gone.

Now that Victor’s back, what will be his first order of business? Repairing the rift between Adam and Nick? Divorcing Ashley?

Victor will be at his Machiavellian best. He is going to get even. This is payback time for a number of people.

Will we see yet another wedding with Nikki this year?

I don’t know. We have been through a few. Who knows? Hope springs eternal. Maybe that’s the definition of insanity, making the same mistakes over and over.

What has fan reaction been like?

I don’t mean to sound corny but it’s really meant a great deal to me. There was an enormous outpouring and I deeply appreciate that. It was one of the most heartwarming aspects of the whole miserable period.

What do you think about the cancellation of CBS’ As the World Turns?

I have not really thought about the implications. My question is how they are going to replace it? With more game shows?

What do you think it means to Y&R’s future?

I think Y&R’s future is contingent upon the ratings. Obviously none of the soaps are kept alive for the sake of loyalty. It’s all about ratings. It’s show business. Period.

Photo Credit: Robert Voets/CBS