Will Simon Cowell really leave ‘American Idol’?

Updated: 2010-01-11 14:57
Large Medium Small

Will Simon Cowell really leave ‘American Idol’?

With the new season of “American Idol” beginning Tuesday, viewers are wondering whether Simon Cowell will be around to deliver his arsenic-laced assessments after this season.

However, sources who know Cowell well say that he’s not really planning on leaving “American Idol,” he’s just using the possibility as a bargaining chip to help another show along.

“He’s just using his current situation at ‘AI’ to be able to get ‘X Factor’ into the U.S.,” said one source.

“X-Factor” is a British show not unlike “America’s Got Talent.” Cowell's not just a judge on "X Factor," he has a financial stake in its success. “X Factor” is produced by his production company, Syco.

Sources say that Cowell’s contract with “American Idol” currently prevents him from launching any sort of competing show, but that will have to change if he renews his contract when it expires this May.

“Simon isn’t allowed to launch any competitor to ‘Idol’ while he’s under contract — but he’s necessary to the show,” said another source close to Cowell. “If push comes to shove, ‘Idol’ is likely going to try to find any way to keep him onboard, even if that means giving in to the ‘X Factor’ problem. Otherwise, if there’s no more Simon, I’m guessing there will be no ‘Idol,’ either.”