For years he has been TV’s Mr Nasty – able to reduce pop wannabes to tears with his acid-tongued put-downs and caustic comments.
Those devastated contestants might not believe it, but now it seems as if Simon Cowell does have a nice side after all.
In fact, ever since he started dating Mezhgan Hussainy, who is now his fiancee, Simon has turned into a bit of a softy.
And that can only be good news for all those hopefuls about to appear on the latest series of his ITV search for a star, Britain’s Got Talent, which starts tomorrow.
“Yes, good and bad moods affect my judging,” admits 50-year-old Simon. “I am in a very good mood at the moment and life with Mezhgan is great.
“Mr Nasty was just a label when we first started doing these shows.
“You have to remember when people are auditioning they are taking it very seriously and for them it is a life-changing moment.
“I am not a hypocrite and I always said I would be honest as I possibly could. But you have to kinda put yourself in their shoes, and if you have woken up in a bad mood you have to shake yourself out of it.”
Those caring comments are a far cry from Simon’s past remarks – many acts before him have ended up in the line of fire and only a few survived.
This weekend up to 10 million viewers are expected to watch Simon, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan as they audition a variety of entertainers trying to win a place on the Royal Variety Performance.
Only a handful receive negative comments from Simon – and even then he is not as harsh as he has been in the past.
Part of the reason he has mellowed could be that the pressure of last year’s series ended up with child star Hollie Steel, 10, in tears and led to Susan Boyle being treated at the Priory for exhaustion.
Simon admits that the new show hopes to avoid similar incidents and that changes have been made behind the scenes. Before any act gets three “yes” votes, bosses must be sure they can handle the spotlight which could see them becoming famous around the world.
Simon explains: “Because of what happened last year with Susan, we are aware of what can happen to people. So 12 months later you approach it in a very, very different way and you are aware that pressure can do all sorts of things to people.
“You are hyper, hyper aware of any audition you do. You have to feel they can cope with what is coming if you put them through. They are under massive, massive scrutiny now and it is one of those things.
“But you have got to look at the show in the context of the country we live in.
“You look across the estates and you see people being mugged. We go into these shows not with a mean spirit, but with a view to trying to change people’s lives forever. If you win the show or get to the final, you are going to make a ton of money.
“I’m glad I gave Susan the opportunity. I wouldn’t change that because we are helping her live her dreams, we are giving her a shot.
“We are not setting people up to have a miserable life. With everything bad that is going on in the world, we need to accept the show for what it is – funny, eccentric, wacky, with good and bad moments. We want to give everyone a break. And we want people to sit back at home, enjoy it and have some fun.”
One act guaranteed to delight viewers is Chandi, an 11-year-old ballet dancing dog.
Simon says: “I was ill when Chandi auditioned so I haven’t see her live, only on video. But if she gets through to the final I will be rooting for her.”
He certainly has no problem getting people to vote for acts on his shows – more than 10 million votes were cast in The X Factor final in December. Now Simon, who is close friends with Gordon Brown, is also urging people to make sure they vote at the General Election.
He says: “I have always believed in voting for things you are passionate about – like I am about stabbings, knife crime in general, injustice to victims. You have to vote for the party you think will change that.
“There are things going on at the moment that are unacceptable.”