In his first and only interview, "The X Factor" judge Simon Cowell breaks his silence to "Extra's" Terri Seymour about the recent exit of judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, and host Steve Jones.

Seymour asked when Cowell and FOX execs first began discussing changes. He said, "At the beginning of the year-- and we were told it had to happen straight away."

Of Paula, Cowell admitted, "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."

As for Scherzinger, Simon said, "I don't think she's mad. I think she's disappointed." But keeping L.A. Reid was important. "There's not a record executive out there who is as good as him for the job."

Seymour queried why certain things didn't work out, to which Cowell replied, "It's only because I opened my big mouth and said we were going to get 20 million [viewers]. If I hadn't said that, everybody would be saying the show was a huge success."

Terri also asked Simon if he thought "The X Factor" was at a disadvantage since its competitor, "The Voice," has been pushing the fact that its mentors are Grammy-winning artists. He answered, "No. Because I would ask... how many hit records have they made? How many artists have they discovered?"

On who might be filling the vacated spots, Simon debunked the rumor Beyonce was under consideration. "No. I have no idea where this rumor came from. I read it online that I offered her $100 million a year. It's complete nonsense."

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."

Cowell thinks Madonna would be "great," adding she would also be "expensive." Katy Perry "would be fun -- and she's feisty."

Tune in to "Extra" Wednesday for more of our exclusive interview with Simon!

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