"You are the worst singer in America." If you've heard this phrase before, then you are familiar with the famously smug, caustically honest "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell.
But Cowell is also a TV mogul who's launched a half dozen shows. Including his newest venture: "American Inventor," which starts it second season on ABC tonight.
According to some estimates he's worth $200 million. And that's not too bad for a guy who never went to college. "There was nothing I could— and wanted to— learn in school," Cowell said. "It was just a complete waste of my time," he said.
But Cowell said he always has been a hard worker. "The secret of my success is that I make other people money," he said. "And, never ever, ever, ever be ashamed about trying to earn as much as possible for yourself, if the person you're working with is also making money. That's life!"
Cowell said he has never had a problem with that idea. "The more they're making, the more money I want," Cowell said. Cowell has made a fortune spotting talent, and "American Inventor" continues that succesful formula.
Among the inventions that have been "discovered" are a game called Whizz Ball, a jar that measures spices and a fireproof suit. Big dreams are tied to ideas from the imaginations of every day folks, who will compete for the $1 million prize on "American Inventor."
Cowell has a specific ideas about what makes a product good or bad.
"You've got to relate to the product," he said. "Something where you go: ' God! I wish I'd invented that'."
Last year's winner invented a baby car seat which spins in a crash, lowering the impact on an infant.
"Its gonna take a long time to get it manufactured because you've got to go through obviously, tons of safety checks, and the government gets involved, but it will go on the market," Cowell said. " And I believe when it goes on the market it will save thousands and thousands of lives. So, it's fantastic!"
Cowell, of course, admits some of the ideas submitted are ludicrous. "We even had a guy who had to be escorted out by security this year, who came in with the best invention in the world and when we asked him what it was: it was the wheel," he said.
One of the show's four judges is boxing legend George Foreman, who didn't invent the famous grill that bears his name. But his heavyweight endorsement earned him a reported $150 million.
If Cowell were a contestant on this show, he knows what he'd bring in as his invention. "I've invented good shows, and I think that when you invent TV shows, it's a very similar process," he said. "You've got to get it financed, then you've got to get it made. Then you've got to make it popular. They're all inventions, aren't they?"