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I wish him all the luck in the world hosting 'The Tonight Show,' " said De Generes, referring to widespread speculation about how NBC will resolve its issues with its late-night talk shows.

“Simon and I had a very authentic, interesting, eclectic relationship that played out on TV very well,” says the 53-year-old, who now fills a similar role on Fox’s : Adam Lambert on First Post-‘Idol’ Single |​ Paula Abdul on Simon Cowell | Ryan Seacrest on Eliminating Contestants | Constantine Maroulis on Seducing the Camera | Harry Connick Jr.

on Being a Judge | A Tribute to ‘Idol’ | Lee De Wyze on Singing ‘Hallelujah’ | Allison Iraheta on Her ‘Idol’ Gig |Todrick Hall on Post-‘Idol’ Fame | Inside ‘Idol’: Show Creator Simon Fuller and More Give It Back“Simon had been doing the show in the U. I came from an entirely different background as a performer, so I know what it’s like to be up onstage and to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there.

(Indeed, he signed the last page of his "contract" on stage with Fox executives Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly.) "[I] didn't think it was right to do two shows in America at the same time, so [I] decided to leave one and start another," he said.

He said he missed Paula Abdul, the former "Idol" judge who left the show in August, but wouldn't confirm or deny whether she would appear on "X Factor" in the U. Cowell and Abdul had a good-naturedly contentious relationship on "Idol," with the tough-minded Brit often acting as bad cop to the "Forever Your Girl" singer's good cop.

After poking fun at her long-time co-judge, Paula got sentimental, telling Simon that their time together has brought her "immeasurable joy." "I love all the fun we've had together, I love all the laughter we've shared together, and American Idol is not going to be the same without you," she sincerely said.

Having vowed he wouldn't return, Cowell, 56, took his former work pals, including host Ryan Seacrest, completely by surprise as he sneaked up on them while they said their goodbyes in front of the studio audience.

Cowell will be both executive producer and judge on "The X Factor." "I'm thrilled that we have put a date on the launch of the U. version of 'The X Factor,' and delighted to be continuing to work with Fox," said Cowell in a statement.

"We have a fantastic relationship, a great team and are all very excited about this." i Report: Will you watch "Idol" without Simon?

Cowell and Abdul have poked fun at the rumors they were dating in the past, including in an Idol skit where the two were seen on a date and later sharing a kiss.

judges panel in season one, she had no idea what to expect, least of all that the show would be a ratings juggernaut (averaging 35 million viewers during its season-five height, according to Nielsen) and that the program, along with her snippy tablemate Simon Cowell and the jovial Randy Jackson, would become instant pop culture phenomena.

Speculation has raged for weeks as to Cowell's future.