Simon Cowell wants you to know that even he makes mistakes.
The brutally honest and oft-grumpy judge of American Idol and Britain's Got Talent said so himself in a lengthy editorial in the U.K.'s Daily Mail Saturday, in which he addressed several controversies surrounding the British talent show. His primary focus: the rise and fall of Susan Boyle.
"I'm the first to hold my hands up and admit I've made mistakes," Cowell wrote. "Looking back on it all, it has become clear to me that we didn't handle the situation with Susan as well as we could have."
Even so, Cowell decided his side of the story needed to be heard. "You can't complain when people turn the tables and criticize you. And I don't," he wrote. "The show has been accused of being a cruel circus that sets out to exploit the vulnerable in a cynical bid to boost ratings. And I, of course, am inevitably portrayed as the evil ringmaster. So love the shows or hate them, the time has finally come for me to set a few things straight."
Cowell recalled thinking that Boyle didn't instantly jump out at him as the sensation she soon became. "I certainly didn't think: 'Here comes a phenomenon who is going to become the most famous woman in the world, I wonder if she can mentally cope with it?'" Cowell wrote.
A few weeks later when the two appeared on Oprah via satellite, Cowell said Boyle was handling her newfound fame well. It wasn't until the finale neared that Cowell started to see the cracks, even though he said there were no "unduly troubling signs."
Cowell became the most concerned when Boyle lost the competition. "During the final show, at the crucial point when the dance group Diversity won, I looked over at her face and thought: 'Christ, she doesn't know how to deal with not winning.'"
Boyle has since missed a number of shows on the Britain's Got Talent tour, something Cowell noted was agreed upon from the outset. Cowell vowed his continued support of the singer, but he also questioned if — "mistakes" or not — this could have been handled differently. He said Boyle's family believes the show did the right thing.
"They said that Susan has always wanted to sing and had sat at home for years, wishing that she had a chance," Cowell wrote. "We had given her that opportunity.... Yes, there have been problems, but overall I think it is a positive experience for her. I'm glad we gave her this opportunity and — more importantly — I think Susan is as well."