Simon Cowell on U.S. 'X Factor': 'I Think it Will Come Back Again'

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell hasn't had too many missteps in his music and television production career, but the cancelation of the U.S. version of The X Factor in February was a blow to the famously self-assured Englishman. However, Cowell isn't taking things lying down and in an interview with the FT Weekend published Friday, he hopes the American version of X Factor will get a second chance.  

Cowell charts the failure of X Factor in the U.S to his early bravado before the show even hit the small screen. "I stupidly said at the beginning, ‘We’re going to get 20 million people.’ I didn’t realize the market had changed so quickly and we got 12. So I felt from the outset that we’d failed and so did everybody else. I should have thought, ‘Actually, 12 is fantastic’, and kept my mouth shut. I think, on both sides, it was a mistake to throw the towel in," said Cowell.

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Despite the very public failure to hit 20 million viewers, Cowell saw potential and a platform to bring the show back to America. “I think it will come back again,” he told the FT Weekend, adding: “The thing about X Factor is you know what you’re getting... [I]f we said, ‘There’s a low base of five to six million’, we might build on that but it won’t be less, compared to a new drama that might only be a million. There’s a reason it produces so many stars, unlike the other shows. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks: a spinning chair, or a wall going up and down. I genuinely do believe it’s the best format.”

Later in the interview, Cowell returns to the subject of X Factor in the U.S. suggesting that with time and a bit of luck the show could have been a huge success. “I think if they’d stuck with it and I’d had a bit more confidence, I would have turned that show around in a couple of years. I would have just kept on banging away, banging away. You get one lucky year with casting, you get a One Direction, and the whole thing turns on its head.”

Can Simon Cowell Revive 'X Factor' U.K.?

Once a familiar face on U.S. TV, Cowell has returned to the U.K. to reinvigorate the original X Factor with mixed results so far, but the caustic talent show judge doesn't miss his notoriety in America too much. "[I]f I’m being honest, it’s more of a buzz being part of One Direction than being on television,” he said adding: “I always say to my staff, when we sit in creative meetings, beating ourselves up, ‘One good idea a year can pay for the next 10.’ I was at the Rose Bowl, looking down at the crowd that was watching my group. I felt like I’d really used my brain, rather than being a dickhead on an American TV show.”

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