Simon says initially doubted American Idol would last even two weeks. "If someone had said to me nine [seasons] ago we were going to have this conversation now, I'd say it would never happen in a million years.," he says.
As for this season's finale, the world's toughest critic puts his money on contestant Adam Lambert. "I think he's got that 'it,' and I think he's fearless," Simon says. "I think he's unique, and he's got swagger."
Meet the talents Simon knew were the next big thing.
Oprah's search for the world's most talented kids turned up these little phenoms!