"Of course," Cowell said on "The Early Show" Wednesday. In an interview with "Early Show" contributor and "Britain's Got Talent" judge Amanda Holden, Cowell said the show is different without Abdul, but added, "You've got to respect people's decisions."
Cowell admitted, "I hate saying this, but Paula's a star. When she came on the show, she was a star, is a star, will always be a star. And then you've got to remember that, with all the people (lining) up, they want to be a star on 'American Idol.' You've got to sort of try to concentrate on them and not think about yourself, which is difficult."
Holden, while interviewing her boss, got Cowell to open up about Susan Boyle, the Scottish singing sensation plucked from obscurity on "Britain's Got Talent."
In Britain, 19 million tuned in and watched Boyle lose the top prize to a dance group. Vulnerable and fragile, she became tabloid fodder and landed in a hospital.
Cowell said Boyle's breakdown was "scary."
"I think at the point where (Susan) didn't win, that she was afraid that everything would be taken away from her. And she was going to go back to that little house," Cowell said. "... She didn't want go back to that life."
Cowell said when Boyle was hospitalized he realized he had a responsibility to the contestants on his shows.
"We're used to (the fame)," Cowell told Holden. "They're not."
When Boyle recovered, she still wanted to make a record with Cowell.
"Here's the good news," Cowell said. "After all the dust settled, she was happy. She is literally stunning on record."
And is Boyle happy when she listens to herself?
Cowell, who is producing her album, said Boyle burst into tears when they played her song for her.
Holden reported Boyle will be singing familiar songs on her debut album, such as a song by The Rolling Stones.
But will other people enjoy Boyle's album?
Her debut album won't be released until November, but it's already topping the charts in pre-sales.
And Cowell is confident in her ability to sell her music. "She's going to sell millions of records this year," he said.
Cowell, famously single and forthcoming to a fault, often makes contestants squirm. He even has a critique for the most successful band of all time.
Holden asked Cowell, "If the Beatles came on 'Britain's Got Talent' or 'American Idol,' do you think you would have put them through to boot camp?"
Cowell responded, "I think we would have said, 'We'll take those three but we'll probably lose the drummer.' Ringo, I'm afraid, it's bad news."
Cowell has helped turn "American Idol" winners into stars. Kelly Clarkson has sold 10 million albums. Country singer Carrie Underwood has sold 11 million and collected three Grammy awards.
And Cowell's new "American Idol" contract is reportedly worth $45 million a year.
What more could he want?
Cowell said he wants to go on winning.
"(Winning) excites me," he said. "I like winning."
Holden said on "The Early Show" Cowell never sits still. She said, "He as the boredom threshold of a goldfish."
Cowell said he likes producing shows more than appearing on them. Holden reported Cowell will likely take a backseat role in the future, perhaps producing a television drama.
However, Cowell told Holden his shows probably won't do as well without his presence.