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Simon Cowell

Occupation: Producer, music executive

Nationality: British

Born: October 7, 1959 (55)

Simon Cowell is a music executive who first stepped out from behind the scenes as a judge on 2001 UK singing competition Pop Idol. After becoming notorious for his brutal honesty and cutting put-downs, he secured a place on the panel of the phenomenally successful American Idol, which he continued to work on for nine years before leaving in 2010.

Cowell also established his own production company, through which he developed a variety of reality formats. The most successful of these have been UK shows The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, both of which have since been exported to numerous countries worldwide.

In 2011, the music mogul brought The X Factor to America, acting as one of the four judges. He also premiered his first gameshow, Red Or Black, that year.

Cowell got engaged to make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy in February 2010, but the couple separated in 2012. In April 2012, it was revealed he had an affair with fellow X Factor judge Dannii Minogue (who left the show in 2010).

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