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In 2003, Cowell placed No 33 on Channel 4's list of the all-time 100 Worst Britons.
Cowell formed a new company Syco, consisting of three opera singers and one pop singer of four different nationalities.
Cowell also launched The X Factor USA in September 2011 on American broadcaster Fox. Cowell's act Melanie Amaro won the season, making Cowell the winning judge.
It was originally announced that he would be a judge both on the UK and US editions of the show, which air at similar times of the year, He was joined by Paula Abdul, L. Cowell and Reid returned for season 2, while Demi Lovato and Britney Spears joined the judging panel as replacements for Abdul and Scherzinger.
Cowell is the principal founder and chief executive of the British entertainment company Syco.
As a judge, Cowell often makes blunt and controversial comments, including insults and wisecracks about contestants and their singing abilities.
Cowell returned for a fourth series on 18 August 2007 alongside Osbourne, Walsh and new judge, Dannii Minogue.
Walsh had previously been sacked from the judging panel by Cowell for the fourth series, and was subsequently replaced by Brian Friedman, who was a judge on Grease Is the Word.
He also became a judge on the first season of American Idol in 2002.
With his notoriously critical reputation, Cowell is likened to TV personalities such as Judith Sheindlin, and Anne Robinson of her show.