Simon Cowell didn't get to where he is just by telling people they suck (though that helped). The dude is just plain scary smart when it comes to business, and now he's leveraging his position to his advantage, much to the chagrin of Fox and their pocketbooks.
Cowell is most famous Stateside as the insult-spewing judge on American Idol, but across the pond, he's known for the Idol-esque talent shows The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, both of which he not only judges but also owns. Last week, Cowell said that he may have to leave Idol because his schedule is too busy.
"I can't imagine not doing Britain's Got Talent and I can't imagine not doing X Factor," Cowell said in an interview. "But I guess [American Idol] is more likely to go because I have got one year under contract. Maybe that will be the end."
For those wondering if he was misquoted or taken out of context, wonder no more. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Cowell said he would leave American Idol if it wasn't America's top show.
"It's like running in the 100 meters and saying 'I came in fifth'--then why bother? Being number one is verging on an obsession with me," he explained. "I don’t like being number two, I don’t mind when you start at number 10--people don’t always go on as number one--and you've got somewhere to go. But if you're at the point you've reached it, of course you want to stay there."
Cowell is eager to try something new in this country, and many are speculating that it could be an Americanized version of The X Factor. The move makes sense for Cowell, as he would reap even more profits from the show as the owner (Cowell does not own American Idol--but his estimated salary is about $36 million per year from Fox, according to the New York Times).
These public comments probably aren't going over too well at Fox, which knows Idol will suffer without Cowell. Well played, Simon... well played.