Cowell told Deadline.com's Nikki Finke that Cole is in negotiations but talks have yet to begin with Abdul, his foil for eight seasons on "American Idol."
"I've always wanted Paula," Cowell said. "Always been very vocal about that. I missed her the second she left the show. Always loved working with her even though she can be a pain...We've agreed that we would meet as many people as possible, and now we're reaching the deadline we've got to make the decision soon. But I think she's got a really good shot."
Of Cole, Cowell said, "She's just got a great ability to communicate. Shes a great judge. She's smart. It's just a hunch. If people take to her like the British public did, I think she's going to do really well in America.
An unknown in the U.S., Cole was a judge on the fifth season of the British version of "The X Factor." She gained fame as a member of Girls Aloud and has scored two No. 1 solo albums in the U.K. A tumultuous marriage and a barroom scrape got her a spot in the tabloids, but she continues to be one of Britain's most popular celebrities.
Bits of information regarding "The X Factor" have emerged over the last month, as the show and Cowell attempt to grab the same headline treatment as "American idol" and NBC's "The Voice," which premieres Tuesday (Apr. 26). Cowell has also said he was hoping George Michael and Mariah Carey would be involved in some capacity with the show as well.