"Only Britney can save her career. Britney is still one of the most talked about pop stars on the planet. She has the X factor, people want to write about her, and she's not conventional, and she's not normal. She can't handle the tension and the pressure," he said. "My advice to her six months ago was to go home to your family, lock the door, don't go out with your stupid friends, have some home-cooked food. Get a sense of reality. Go and lie in the garden, OK?"
"And then say to yourself there's more good in my life than bad. I'm still a rich, talented girl and now I want to get my career back on track. End of story."
If the judges Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, and host Ryan Seacrest were a family, they'd be a dysfunctional one, Cowell said.
"Randy is my slightly older brother. Paula is my precocious younger sister, and Ryan is my younger brother, who I quite like, but isn't mature enough yet to hang out with me," he said.
Although they spar onstage, the competition between Seacrest and Cowell is really about getting attention.
"It's a question of outdoing each other, because Ryan basically controls the show where he sits or where he stands. He's able to go into a break, to cut me off, and direct the show. And he's always trying to do things where I've got nothing to say in response," he said. "That's what he just gets a kick out of. And he's just trying to get more attention than I am."