A sharp-tongued British personality whose cutting but often hilariously honest comments have dashed the dreams of countless aspiring singers, Cowell was a successful music producer before being tapped in 2001 to be a judge for Pop Idol, the British reality competition that was the basis for American Idol. Since then, Cowell has practically made a career out of being disliked, as his outrageous put-downs and tempestuous relationships with host Ryan Seacrest and former judge Paula Abdul have been a large part of Idol's mass appeal. Throughout his time on Idol, Cowell also launched several reality-competition series, including American Inventor, America's Got Talent and Celebrity Duets, as well as the short-lived matchmaking series Cupid. In 2010, Cowell announced he was leaving Idol in order launch a U.S. version of the popular British singing competition The X Factor, on which he's served as a judge since 2006.

Fast Facts

  • Started out as a clerk in the mail room of EMI Music.
  • Launched his own record label, Fanfare, in the 1980s and had his first hit, "So Macho," with singer Sinitta.
  • Ranked No. 33 on the 100 Worst Britons We Love to Hate list on the UK's Channel 4 network in 2003.
  • Penned the 2003 book I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But... : Backstage Gossip from American Idol and the Secrets that Can Make You a Star.
  • Appeared in a 2005 PETA anti-fur ad, as well as a 2009 PETA commercial urging dog owners not to leave their pets unattended in hot cars.


  • 2006, Emmy — Outstanding Reality/Competition Program: Nominee
  • 2005, Emmy — Outstanding Reality/Competition Program: Nominee
  • 2003, Emmy — Outstanding Reality/Competition Program: Nominee
  • 2004, Emmy — Outstanding Reality/Competition Program: Nominee
  • 2007, Emmy — Outstanding Reality/Competition Program: Nominee
  • 2015, National Television Awards — TV Judge: Nominee


  • Eric Cowell — Father
  • Eric — Son
  • Mezhgan Hussainy — Ex-fiancée
  • Michael Cowell — Half Brother
  • Julie Cowell — Mother
  • Tony Cowell — Half Brother
  • John Cowell — Half Brother
  • June Cowell — Half Sister
  • Nicholas Cowell — Brother
  • Terri Seymour — Ex-significant Other
  • Lauren Silverman — Significant Other

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  • Birth Name: Simon Phillip Cowell
  • Birth Place: Brighton, England
  • Profession: TV personality, Music producer

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