Another of Simon's favorite auditions was Britain's Got Talent's Susan Boyle, he says. "I was in such a bad mood. I just didn't want to be there—bored, never thought we'd find anyone good—the second I saw her come out , I'm like 'Oh my god, here we go,'" he says. "And then she started to sing and I thought, 'My God, [I've] got this all wrong.' Then when I watched the clip back when it was all edited together and I saw the whole thing, I actually hated myself. I mean genuinely. I thought: 'You know what? We're all sneering. We're not listening to people. We're judging everybody.' I just didn't like what I saw. It was a wake-up call, and I was happy that she made us look stupid. Genuinely happy, because we deserved it."

So how is X Factor different from all the other talent shows Simon has judged? "First of all, there's no upper age limit. I like the idea that somebody who could be 60 years old can enter the show. There's a lower age limit—we're taking it down to 14—and singing groups can enter the show. So when we created the show in the first place, we kind of saw in our mind almost like a David versus Goliath potential final where a 16-year-old could be competing against a 35-year-old," he says. "I have genuinely no idea whether it's going to work or not, but I'll put its success or failure down to the fact, can we or can we not find a star? And I'm confident we can find a star."


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