The 55-year-old Brit, whose acid-tongued barbs made him a superstar in the States, spoke out Monday after Fox revealed the show would end after 15 seasons.
He tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement: “We had a blast! Me, Paula, Randy, Ryan – and not forgetting Brian. Thanks to the fans we were able to make some great shows and found some amazing artists. Fox took a risk on a brand new show and I want to thank them for giving us the opportunity. They really were great times.
Now dad to 15-month-old son Eric, Cowell joined Idol upon its launch in 2002 – and announced his departure from the show in January 2010, by which time the show was on its seventh season, and the highest-rated show in the country.
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He was replaced by Steven Tyler and went on to produce and star in The X Factor for Fox.
Cowell is currently in talks with Fox about new TV formats and his upcoming talent show, La Banda, starring Ricky Martin, is set to launch on Univision. He also owns and executive produces America’s Got Talent, which is NBC’s biggest summer entertainment show.