As the race to fill his seat charges full speed ahead, the question remains: How do you replace someone with Cowell's experience, expertise and charisma? Cowell can't say for sure, but what he would like to see is someone who knows what he's talking about. "Over the years, judges have been replaced by personalities. That, in the long term, will create problems because you have to be able to spot a star," he says. "My advice has always been to find somebody who actually knows what they're talking about and has actually experienced success in the music business."
Could Howard Stern and Perez Hilton be Idol material?
One name thrown out in the ring of public opinion? Shock jock Howard Stern. "He's played records. Maybe that's a good qualification," he says. "I know Howard's name has been in there for a while, but I'm fairly certain that there hasn't been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show."
Still, if Howard wants the job, Cowell says he should keep bringing it up on air. "Just basically talking about it on his show I think is brilliant," he says. "Good luck to him."
Blogger Perez Hilton has also made his bid for Simon's Coca-Cola cup well-known. "Perez would be funny," he says. "He has a good taste in music; he's a personality. I mean, that could work."
How Cowell really feels about Ellen DeGeneres
Simon also addresses rumors of tension between him and Ellen. "I wouldn't say that we didn't get on well. I don't know Ellen that well," he says. "It was a difficult position for her because she started work on the Hollywood Week, which is quite a difficult show to do."
"There was one story I read that I turned up an hour late or something and that she wanted to film. The truth was I think I turned up 15 or 20 minutes late because I did a press conference earlier in the day and they did start filming, but that wasn't a particular problem," he says. "But no, there was no fallout. I was trying to guide her through the week and that was about it, really."
Cowell on his last season
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."
Adam Lambert's rise to fame
Fantasia's reality check
Catch up with Season 8's Idols