Simon Cowell

How's that slice of humble pie?

Simon Cowell says he regrets saying that ratings less than 20 million for The X Factor would be a failure, The Associated Press reports.

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In its first two weeks, covering four two-hour episodes, the U.S. version of his beloved franchise has averaged about 12 million — a number with which Cowell is now pleased.

"I'm not going to lie. I wanted 20 million when we launched," he says. "But now I'm kind of back in the real world and I'm seeing this grow naturally. I'm as happy as I've ever been."

Cowell acknowledges that there are a lot of singing-competition shows to compete with stateside, including The Voice and his former stomping ground, American Idol, which attracted 25 million in its first Cowell-less season last year.

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"We're not in Russia where you have one show," Cowell says. "This is life. If you're competitive and it spurs you on, I kind of get excited by it."

The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.