Joined by X Factor winner Leona Lewis, former X Factor judge Mel B and One Direction star (and incoming X Factor judge) Louis Tomlinson at the unveiling ceremony, Cowell reflected on his career since launching Pop Idol in 2001.
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“Why did this take so long?” he joked. “It’s been a blast the last 18 years. If anyone says fame is a bad thing, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s the best thing in the world.”
Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of American Idol, introduced Cowell, calling the judge “the best friend you can ever have.” She also thanked him for kick-starting countless careers. “He appreciates authenticity even if it’s not something he’s into. He appreciates you being yourself,” she said. “That’s very rare in this industry.”
Cowell was later joined by America’s Got Talent judges Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, plus the likes of American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert and Britain’s Got Talent’s Alesha Dixon.
Cowell came to fame in 2001 with shows Pop Idol and American Idol, gaining notoriety with his harsh criticisms on the judging panel. He went on to launch the X Factor in 2004 and America’s Got Talent in 2006, before a British version of the show hit screens the next year.
These shows saw the rise of countless acts including Will Young, One Direction, Susan Boyle, Diversity, Little Mix, Ella Henderson and Olly Murs.
Cowell will be back on The X Factor on September 1st alongside judges Robbie Williams, Ayda Field and Louis Tomlinson while BBC1 is launching The Greatest Dancer – a brand new entertainment series from Cowell’s production company Syco.
The X Factor 2018 begins on Saturday 1st September at 8pm on ITV