Britains Got Talent
Credit: Fox

On the heels of EW’s exclusive interview with Fox about the X Factor shakeup, Extra’s Terri Seymour has landed an exclusive interview with the show’s executive producer and top judge Simon Cowell. Fox’s reality star debunks and praises some of the names floating around in the media as potential replacements for departing Factor judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. The interview airs on Extra in two parts starting tonight.

Cowell gives his thoughts on…

Abdul’s exit: “I would’ve liked to have kept her. She was very gracious and I said that to her. She understands it’s business; it’s never personal.”

Whether he feels pressure to bring in A-lister music stars as judges: “No. Because when we first launched [Pop] Idol in the UK years ago, we didn’t think for one second there had to be an A-list star on the panel. Everyone on the panel was really unknown … Firstly, they are incredibly expensive – that is millions you lose on something else. Secondly, they have to make the time commitment and on my show, they have to work five days a week. Thirdly, they have to be interesting … I’m not playing this game where we have to compete on the level of A-lister stars … you can lose focus on what the show is all about, and at the end of the day the most important thing is the contestants.”

The rumor he made Beyonce a $100 million-per-year offer: “I have no clue where that came from. I read that online that I offered her $100 million a year. The budget for the show is $100 million. That would never, ever happen. It’s absolute nonsense … Even if you had that kind of money. I wouldn’t spend $100 million on one person.”

Mariah Carey? “I would love her. But you can’t expect someone who’s just had two kids to make the kind of commitment you would need on this show.”

Madonna would be “great” but “expensive.”

Katy Perry would be “fun — and she’s feisty.”

The Voice touting their Grammy-winning judges: “I would ask how many records have they made, how many artists have they discovered. That’s where we have to be different on the judging panel. It’s very important that you have people on the panel that have actually signed and made artists successful all over the world, not just have made hit records yourself. That’s why you have a judging panel.”

X-Factor‘s record of discovering new artists around the world: “It’s one of the biggest shows around the world and has produced tons and tons of artists and we have sold hundreds of millions of records, and that’s what we set out to do. Can I do it better than last year? Yes. Will it be better? Yes. But that takes hard work and a lot of planning.”