Simon Philip Cowell (born October 7, 1959 in Brighton in England) is a British A&R (artist and repertoire) executive for BMG Records, but is probably best known as a judge on Pop Idol and American Idol television programs. Cowell is notorious for his uncompromisingly harsh and occasionally controversial criticism of Pop Idol and American Idol contestants.
He started out as a mail room clerk for EMI Music Publishing, but gradually worked his way up through the music industry until he became a record producer. In June 2003, Cowell sold his half share in S Records for $42 million to BMG.
In December 2003, Cowell published a book, I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But...: Backstage Gossip from American Idol & the Secrets that Can Make You a Star. (ISBN 0767917413)