Now, Cowell is turning his attention from music to love as the creator and executive producer of an upcoming reality dating show, "Cupid."
He visited Friday's The Early Show with Lisa Shannon, a 25-year-old single woman who is looking for Mr. Right on the show.
But first, Cowell told his critics, who think he is being mean to kids who have hope of fame and fortune, he is being kind most of the time on "American Idol."
"[Some contestants] are disillusioned," he explained. "And I'm just saying to people who have no talent, 'You have no talent.'"
But isn't there a nicer way to telling a person he or she shouldn't quit their day job?
"No, because even if they worked for a million years they wouldn't have a career," Cowell said. "We see 70,000 people each time. And out of the 70,000 people, maybe 69,900 are never, ever, ever going to have a career in the music industry.
"I'm saying to all these people, 'Don't waste your time.' I'm actually the kind one. Because the Paula [Abduls] of this world would say, 'You're fantastic, take a few singing lessons, you'll become rich and famous overnight.' They won't."
For his new show, "Cupid," Cowell will be helping make a love connection.
On the dating show, the girls choose 100 guys on their own. Then the number is dwindled to 10. After that, the television public votes on the match they would like to see, which leads to marriage.
If the show's couple stays married for a year, they get a million dollars.
Cowell said they audition hundreds of women for "Cupid," but most saw the show as a launching pad for their acting career. He said Shannon was sincere about meeting a life-partner.
"This girl, I'd marry her," said Cowell with a laugh. "She wouldn't marry me."
As a woman who will trust the public to choose her husband, Shannon said she is excited about the show.
"I don't really like to go out to the bar and do the typical thing of meeting men," said the Michigan native. "So it's hard for me to meet guys. I really have not had a chance to meet different types of men because I've never traveled the country. I've never left."
For the show, Shannon had to practice some power dating.
"I did an eight-minute dating thing where I met these guys, and they were great and it was interesting," she said.
But in the end, Shannon said she wants to meet someone who is funny and who likes sports. And once the show is over, she wants to go back to her normal life.
"Cupid" airs this summer on CBS.
The show is holding auditions for suitors at the following locations:
Monday, May 19
Wyndham Chicago Hotel
633 North St. Clair Street
Line up at 6 a.m. around the corner from the hotel entrance, on Erie Street
Friday May 23: from 6 a.m. until the last wristband has been given out.
Westin NY Times Square
255 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10003
Tuesday, May 27: from 6 a.m. until the last wristband has been given out.
Eden Roc Renaissance Resort & Spa
4525 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140