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Full name: Simon Phillip Cowell
Nickname(s): Mr. Nasty, Judge Dread
Date of birth: October 7, 1959
Hometown: Brighton, East Sussex, England
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, California
Education: Attended Dover College, but left before the sixth form
Significant other? Simon is engaged to make up artist Mezhgan Hussainy, whom he met on the set of American Idol.
Resume highlights: Music executive, TV producer
Bet you didn't know... The first time he gave a criticism was at age 4 when he looked at his mother's white, fuzzy pillbox hat and remarked, "Mum, you look like a poodle."
Before American Idol
Who would have thought that a high school dropout with a serious 'tude — who started out working in the mail room of a recording company — would actually become one of the most filthy-rich and well-known men in the entertainment biz? That's exactly what happened to Simon Cowell: Mr. Nasty left high school when he was 16, then hopped from one odd job to another before becoming a mail clerk at EMI Music Publishing. (The lucky lad's father was a music exec at EMI.) Simon was soon promoted from from clerk to talent scout at EMI, and by the 1980s, he had already started a record label with one of his former bosses — and later co-founded an independent record label that ended up folding. After moving back in with his parents when his label failed, Simon rebuilt a successful career at BMG Records.
Simon truly made it big when he was chosen to judge the UK talent show Pop Idol in 2001. Thanks to his brutally honest (and some would say rude) comments to the worst pop-star wannabes, Simon became the show's most talked-about judge.
American Idol days
When Simon crossed the pond to join the judges' panel of American Idol in 2002, his snarky style was credited with making the show a mega-success. Simon became so popular, he was reportedly offered $144 million to a year to stay on Idol during his last seasons on the show. Ca-ching! Simon also made bank producing the shows Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent, X-Factor, and American Inventor. He also formed the label Syco Records, which includes popular acts such as Il Divo.
After American Idol
After serving as an American Idol judge for nine seasons, Simon has left the show to launch the U.S. version of the talent competition X-Factor in late spring 2011. Simon will be a judge and executive producer of the much-anticipated show.