Simon Says; I Don't Care What People Think about Me I'm Not Gay and I've Never Fantasised about Sleeping with a Man My Only Motivation Is Success and Money

By Hardy, Rebecca | The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

Simon Says; I Don't Care What People Think about Me I'm Not Gay and I've Never Fantasised about Sleeping with a Man My Only Motivation Is Success and Money


Hardy, Rebecca, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)


Byline: REBECCA HARDY

I don't care what people say about me. My only motivation is to be successful and make money. It's the only motivation I've ever had,' says Simon Cowell. He is Pop Idol's Mr Nasty, the putdown king of trash television. He's been described as smug, snide and rude. Tom Jones wants to punch him, Paula Abdul despises him.

As a judge on American Idol, the US version of Pop Idol, it took one summer for Cowell to be labelled the 'meanest man in America'. Time magazine has devoted a page to the 'Importance of Being Simon Cowell', while the British tabloids obsess about everything from his high waistband to the details of his sex life.

Cowell, 43, takes it all on the chin. Talk is cheap, it's the money in the bank that counts and he has more than [pounds sterling]30 million. He is also achieving huge business success. Pop Idol winner Will Young's single Anything Is Possible/Evergreen, which was released on Cowell's BMG record label, was Britain's fastest-selling debut single ever. In the US, American Idol was the top-rated show - 52 million viewers watched last September's final. He is also working on a second British series of the hit show and auditions started this month.

As well as a record label, Cowell also runs a TV company. By next year he expects to have three further shows on TV. 'If you asked me to describe the past two or three years,' he says, 'I'd say they've been fun, but it's just been target practice. I want more, I really do.

'Money is fantastic,' he adds. 'It's the best thing in the world. It changes you as a person. It gives you confidence. I first appreciated how much money I had a year and a half ago. I'd watched a documentary on a single mother who had to borrow [pounds sterling]250 at Christmas for presents and a hamper, and then had to pay back [pounds sterling]45 each month for the following year.

'The next day I went into Dixons at Heathrow and bought a games console for about [pounds sterling]150. That [pounds sterling]150 was like a penny to me. I didn't have to think about whether I could afford it or not. I realised then how much money I had - even more so than when I bought this house or my Ferrari.

'No one should feel embarrassed about admitting they're in this for the money. I don't do projects to be remembered in 50 years' time, or to make a cultural difference. If I want art, I'll buy it. Anyone who comes to my label to work is there to make as much money as possible.' I meet Cowell and his current girlfriend, Terri Seymour, at his home in Holland Park, west London.

They have known one another for several years and became lovers when they worked together in Los Angeles. They have just returned from a holiday at the exclusive Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados. Cowell also went there for Christmas and the New Year.

'I love the hotel, but if I haven't got the right view, I'm unhappy,' he says. 'If I'm sitting in a restaurant and I'm facing a wall, I can't enjoy myself. I'm a Libran and I have the stereotypical Libran characteristic: everything has to look nice.

'You know when you've got a beautiful car and there's a scratch on the wheel? You're the only person who sees it, but you hate the car. Everything has to be perfect.' Terri, a 30-year-old TV presenter, is perfectly beautiful - tall, slim, white-toothed, with glossy dark hair that looks straight out of a shampoo advert. Cowell is tanned, toned, fit and casually smart in faded jeans and a blue top pulled down over the waistband.

In the flesh, Cowell is not really nasty. In fact, he can be charming and funny, and has huge energy. He is also a man of his word, however harsh, with a tight-knit circle of friends who would go to the ends of the earth for him.

We had lunch in Barbados a few months ago and were interrupted time and again by star-struck teenage girls wanting a piece of him. Cowell can be an impatient man, but he didn't once show a flicker of irritation.

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