American Idol judges
Photo: Fox
Fans may not be able to envision Idol without him, but Cowell says the show must go on. "I think, ironically, it's going to help next season because I think there's going to be a lot of interest as to who replaces me."

In the meantime, Cowell says he's giving his all to the last season—and hopes to work with one guest judge before he leaves. "I think we should have Lady GaGa because she is the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment," he says. "I've met her, and she's very smart. I like her."

With his Idol days numbered, Cowell says he's going to keep doing what he does best. "Be in the moment and always do what I've done in my career, which is to hopefully make the right decisions. If that means disagreeing with people, I don't have a problem with that—I never have," he says. "It's my last season, and I want it to be successful. I'll do everything I can to make it happen."

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