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Simon Cowell Admits Being ‘Too Cocky’ with Expectations for ‘X Factor’


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ABC/ RON TOM(LOS ANGELES) — With the two night finale of The X Factor set to air Wednesday and Thursday, Simon Cowell took a moment at a news conference Monday to reflect on the season, admitting for the first time that he was “a little too cocky” when he bragged that his new Fox show would overtake American Idol in the ratings.

Cowell said, “I think I probably came here a little too cocky, but I am cocky by nature. I had come off a massive hit in the U.K., had adrenaline [and] couldn’t wait to put the show on here…”

Cowell’s U.K. version of X Factor has been the top show across the pond for several years.

He also confessed that his British sensibility when it came to song choices for the contestants was not exactly on the mark, telling reporters, “I’m not American — that was a big factor of where I got things right and where I got things wrong.”  He added, “I’m trying to think American.”

Cowell now admits, “It’s going to take a little longer than I thought” to overtake Idol in the ratings race.  The X Factor has been attracting an average of 12 million viewers a week — respectable for sure, but less than half the audience tuning in to watch American Idol.

He also admits that mistakes were made in the first season, including the early dismissal of Rachel Crow.

Cowell told reporters, “The process didn’t work.  If everyone had done their job properly that week, the judges should have saved her.”  

When asked what he might do in the future to improve things, Cowell replied, “I’m not going to change the system, just suggest we do a better job in the future.”

Fans know Cowell’s remarks are aimed at fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger, who admitted, “The elimination process has been really hard…it’s something I could have never prepared for.” She admitted in interviews subsequently that fear of a backlash from viewers — she even got death threats — allowed her to let fellow Paula Abdul sway her vote.

The X Factor finale features Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik and Melanie Amaro competing for a $5 million recording contract, and Cowell thinks it has the makings of “the greatest final” ever, adding “There is $5 million talent here.”

Cowell adds, “We’re going to put on a show this week.  And it’s going to be better next year.”

Justin Bieber, rapper Pitbull and R&B star Ne-Yo will be joining the three remaining contestants on the finale.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio