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Simon Cowell on ‘American Idol’ Ending: ‘I Haven’t Seen It in a Couple of Years’

Simon Cowell was the face of “American Idol” for nine seasons, but the former judge hasn’t kept up with the singing competition since he departed the Fox series.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t seen it in a couple of years so I don’t really have an opinion on it,” Cowell told Variety when asked what he thought about the long-running show singing its final note this week.

“I wasn’t surprised,” he added of the show coming to an end. “No one can complain after 15 years. It’s had a fantastic run, great memories. For me, I had the best time of my life. But then, you move on and other things come along.”

Cowell — who served as an original judge on “Pop Idol,” the U.K. series that inspired Fox’s “American Idol” — was on the first panel of judges on the U.S. show from its debut in 2002 until he exited the series after its ninth season in 2010. Cowell become a pop culture fixture, gaining popularity for his tough commentary and one-line zingers. Known Stateside for “Idol,” the judge created the global “Got Talent” franchise and has served as a judge on the British version of that series for all 10 seasons. This May, he’s hopping across the pond to return to American television screens (for the first time since his three season stint on the American version of “The X-Factor,” which he also created), as the newest judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

“Funny enough, this reminds me of when I was on ‘Idol’ in around about 2003 and 2004, when it was so much fun and there was just this great energy on the show on those couple of years. When I came and did this show, after a few days, I thought ‘this reminds me of the same thing’ — it’s fun, it’s crazy, the panel is great. There’s an energy that reminds me of that,” Cowell said of “America’s Got Talent,” on which he’ll judge alongside Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B.

As for his American TV hiatus, after the U.S. version of “The X-Factor” was cancelled in 2013, Cowell says he’s turned down many offers in recent years.

“I got a lot of calls and offers to do a lot of shows — some quite surprising, actually — but this was the only one where I felt genuinely comfortable because obviously I’ve done the show before in the U.K., so I know the format,” Cowell said of “AGT.”

As for his signature critical persona, which was made famous on “American Idol,” Cowell says he’s not trying to bring any specific demeanor to “AGT.”

“I know I have a reputation for being a bit rude — and I can be at times — but the thing I’m most excited about is the fact that we do actually find stars,” he said. “If I come over as harsh at times, it’s only because I’m being real. When someone is totally useless and they’re 16 or 17 years old and they go, ‘I’m going to get a recording deal in three years’ time,’ I go, ‘You’re not. That’s just the way it is.'”

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