The X Factor boss made the comment during a radio interview in the US, The Sun reports.
"You're going to suddenly see this year the emergence of boybands and girlbands taking over the charts. We had a group called One Direction who were on X Factor UK a couple of years ago," he said.
"Their album launched in America and debuted at number one. This band were completely unheard of but very talented."
Cowell went on to say that he is keen to find such a group on the next series of The X Factor USA: "It would be great to find the next NSync, the next Backstreet Boys, the next Destiny's Child on X Factor - there is a gap in the market right now for a group like that from America."
He added of the upcoming season: "This show has got to feel very very different to last year... more controversial."
It was reported earlier today (May 3) that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato have finalised terms to join The X Factor USA as judges.
Watch the video for the Backstreet Boys' 'I Want It That Way' below: