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Simon Cowell Pays Tribute to American Idol: 'We Had a Blast'

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Simon Cowell has paid tribute to American Idol, revealing he and his costars had a “blast” on the talent show juggernaut.

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.

And Cowell fondly remembered the show – recalling the “great times” he spent on and off air with his costars Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and first-year cohost Brian Dunkleman.

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.

RELATED VIDEO: Why You Shouldn’t Be Surprised American Idol Is Ending

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.