Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

American Idol 'will flourish' with or without Cowell

Simon Cowell
Cowell has been with the TV talent show since it began in 2002

American Idol judge Simon Cowell says the hit reality TV show "will flourish" with or without him.

"Whether I'm on it or off it, I think the show will flourish without me. I genuinely do," he told USA Today, ahead of the ninth season of American Idol.

Speculation over his future on the show followed his announcement that he will take rival British reality show The X Factor to the US next year.

"I really don't know until I hear it from him," said co-star Randy Jackson.

"The rumours get so wild and crazy, you just don't know what to believe," said fellow judge Jackson.

"It is pretty much a distraction," he added. "Let's focus on what we are judging... finding that next superstar talent."

Cowell has confirmed that he is still in negotiations with Fox, the network behind the talent show contest. He was named US TV's top earner last year, according to

"I've had conversations - as you know, there's been speculation for months and months," he told USA Today.

"I'm very grateful," continued Cowell, whose current contract comes to an end following the show's ninth season. "I've had the best experience in my life since I've been on this show. I really like working in America."

(l-r) American Idol finalists 2009 Adam Lambert, Kris Allen
Kris Allen (r) beat Adam Lambert to be named American Idol last year

The show has enjoyed massive success in the US since its inception in 2002, and has been a launch-pad for several singing stars, notably Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and the show's first winner Kelly Clarkson.

However the ninth season sees a dramatic shake-up in the judging panel, after singer and choreographer Paula Abdul announced her departure in August 2009.

"We look down the table sometimes and think, 'Where's Paula?'," said Jackson. "It's going to take a little getting used to. We're really sad about that."

Victoria Beckham, Katy Perry and Mary J Blige are among the guest judges who will feature in the audition rounds, while talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will replace Abdul when the show moves to Hollywood.

American Idol remains the most popular show in the US with the last series drawing an average of 26.3 million viewers, but ratings have seen a decline over the past three years.

"I think it can go on for some time," insisted Jackson. "I think it is the best music reality show that has ever been on TV."

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