"When you get called grotesque and useless what do you take from that?" he told Ellen Degeneres during an appearance on her talk show Wednesday. "It just lowers your self-esteem so after I hear 'useless' I just zone out ... like an airhead ... like I don't care anymore. The first time he called me grotesque I started crying, I was bawling."
Degeneres pointed out that Cowell was referring to Noriega's performance, not to him. But, she did agree that he was too harsh with his words.
"Yeah, he's a bully," Noriega agreed.
Cowell didn't bid farewell to Noriega after the 18-year-old singer was voted off the show on March 6.
"They swept me off the stage really quick but Paula and Randy came backstage. No Simon," he said.
Degeneres told Noriega that she was going to take Cowell to task on his behavior, saying "I'm going to call him. I'm going to talk to him because that's mean."
Noriega was part of the group of 24 contestants chosen for the first round of voting by the public, with four going home each week. The show, now down to the final 12 singers, will reveal which one is going home this week on tonight's episode, airing on Fox at 9 p.m. ET.
By Judy Rosen