Simon Phillip Cowell (born October 7, 1959) is an English A&R executive, television producer, entrepreneur, and television personality. He is known in the United Kingdom and United States for being a talent judge on TV shows like Pop Idol, The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and American Idol and America's Got Talent. He is also the owner of the television production and music publishing house Syco. He is a co-creator of British-Irish boyband One Direction, who finished third on the seventh season of The X Factor.
Cowell was born in Lambeth, London and brought up in Elstree, Hertfordshire. His mother, Julie Brett (née Josie Dalglish; 1925-2015), was a ballet dancer and socialite, and his father, Eric Selig Phillip Cowell, Sr. (1918–1999), was an estate agent developer and music industry executive. Cowell's father was from a mostly Jewish family, though he did not discuss his background with his children (Cowell's paternal grandmother had emigrated from Poland). Cowell's mother was from a Christian background, and was of English descent. He has a younger brother, Nicholas Cowell, three half-brothers, John, Tony, and Michael Cowell, and a half-sister, June Cowell.
Cowell attended Radlett Preparatory School and the independent Dover College as did his brother, but left after taking GCE O levels. He passed English Language and Literature, and then attended Windsor Technical College where he gained another GCE in Sociology. Cowell took a few menial jobs—including, according to his brother Tony, working as a runner on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining—but did not get along well with colleagues and bosses, until his father, who was an executive at EMI Music Publishing, managed to get him a job in the mail room. However, after failing to get a promotion, he left to try out other jobs before returning to EMI.
Simon Cowell eliminated Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne from the seventh series of The X Factor in 2010. After all five were rejected as solo artists, Simon and the other judges brought them back to assemble them as a group to even out the number of contestants within each category.
Cowell was their mentor throughout the series and they ended up being his final act, bringing the band all the way to third place. After the competition, Simon signed One Direction to Syco and they became one of his most successful acts ever.
In 2015, he chose Louis to be a guest judge for X Factor UK's Judge's Houses preliminary round.
In 2016, he chose Louis again to be a guest judge on America's Got Talent (Season 11).
Cowell was engaged to make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy from 2010 until 2011. In July 2013, Andrew Silverman filed for an at-fault divorce in New York, citing adultery by his wife and naming Cowell as a co-respondent. News of the divorce filing became public two weeks later, when it was widely reported that Lauren Silverman and Cowell were expecting a baby. The child would be Cowell's first, but the second for Silverman, who has a son with Andrew Silverman. When questioned by reporters, Cowell said, "There are a lot of things I will eventually clear up when the time is right, but I really have to be sensitive because there's a lot of people's feelings involved here," while the Silvermans released separate statements expressing concern for the well-being of their son during the divorce process. In August 2013, the Silvermans settled their divorce out of court, enabling Cowell to avoid being called as a witness in the divorce proceedings. Cowell subsequently confirmed that Silverman was pregnant with his child, and she gave birth to baby Eric on 14 February 2014.
- "There will never be another One Direction."
- "My attitude is, if someone’s going to criticize me, tell me to my face."
- "If you've got a big mouth and you're controversial, you're going to get attention."
- "The end of the animal trade would leave more time to trap or beat to death pop star wannabes."