Simon Cowell Reveals How “X Factor” Will Beat “American Idol” And “The Voice” Simon Cowell spoke with the Television Critics Association via satellite about the American debut of his talent competition show, “The X Factor.” Airing on the same network as “American Idol,” Cowell is confident “X” will give viewers something totally different.

“I wouldn’t have made the show unless I thought it was going to be different,” Cowell said. “It’s taken me a while with Fox to decide when we were going to do it. They wanted it last year, we weren’t ready. We felt the time was ready now. The fact that it’s launched in 2011, we see this as a game changer. We’re going to try and change the rules.”

One of those major changes comes with the contestants themselves. “We’re going to try and find a completely different kind of contestant. Our job as judges is to find people who’ve got star quality and turn them into stars. I’ve got a panel who can do that. For me, because I’ve worked on Idol and X Factor for 7 years, they were completely different even though they were both talent competitions.”

President of Alternative Entertainment for Fox, Mike Darnell, suggested lowering the minimum age of contestants to 12. Now Cowell has to deal with young hopefuls who’ll talk back to him if he criticizes them.

“We’ve had to say to the 14-year-olds, ‘Would you be kind to me?’ They are more lippy than any other contestants I’ve met in my life. I was quite traumatized after the auditions. We’re quite careful. When you’ve got young contestants coming on, you make the call whether they’re up for it or not. There was a little rapper, he absolutely chewed me apart but I quite like that.”

The X Factor has already had some shakeups that it took Idol years to face. Cheryl Cole was up for a judging position, but now Nicole Scherzinger has that spot. “I’ll tell you what happened. We produced the show in a lot of countries. The UK it’s been a big show for us for the last few years. It wasn’t just me, a few of us made the decision while we were filming the show that Cheryl, we felt, and I probably got this wrong and I’ll admit it, that Cheryl was going to be more comfortable doing the UK show than the American show. I offered her the job in the UK and unfortunately when it went public, negotiations fell apart. She was offered a chance to come back to America but for certain reasons decided not to. Ig uses that’s what happens when you make reality TV. Real things happen and it doesn’t always go your way.”

Rumors that Cole did not get alone with Paula Abdul, returning to a judge’s position, are grossly exaggerated. “Look, if it was a question of not getting along with Paula than I wouldn’t be on the show so that had nothing to do with it. The truth is what I just told you. I thought Cheryl returning back to the UK would’ve been a big headline. I thought it would’ve been good for the show over there. When you have to make decisions as a producer, you have to make hard decisions and public decisions. When you get it wrong, you have to take it on the chin and I’ll take it on the chin. Having said that, Nicole has been a revelation.”

Cowell also wanted Mariah Carey to be involved with The X Factor too. “We do have well known people helping us on the show. There’s a section on the show I’m hoping Mariah will get involved in. She’s been enthusiastic from day one and then selfishly got pregnant which is why she didn’t end up as a judge.”

What will be on The X Factor are things Cowell promises you’ve never seen before. “Our show looks different from other shows. Particularly the live shows, you’re going to see a scale of production you’ve never seen on any of these shows. That’s why the show is so expensive to make in terms of stage design, lighting, performances. In other aspects you have to scale it right back. You’ve allowed the public to look through the keyhole and see things they’re not supposed to see. I like the combination of the two.”

That includes showing the audience when things don’t go well. “We’re going to show the good bits, the bad bits, the ugly bits. And there are a lot of ugly bits. During the boot camp phase of the show, there were about 90 contestants left and they were given a task to do and everything went wrong. It wasn’t their fault. It was just the arrangements they’d chosen were terrible. I couldn’t hear the piano player, the guitar sounded out of tune so I was saying to the producers in a calm way, ‘I don’t like what I’m hearing. Can you sort it out please?’”

No longer the only game in town as far as singing competitions, Cowell still has every confidence he’ll be the best, even with Idol and The Voice on the air too. “You don’t enter anything for the silver medal. You want to be number one and for the next few months we’re going to throw everything at it to make this the best show on television. I didn’t have a problem with The Voice. When I heard it was coming, I said to our production team, ‘You’ve got to accept that there are going to be competition shows and make it better.’”

The X Factor premieres this fall on Fox.

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