After several rounds of auditions and a break for the Olympics, America’s Got Talent (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET on NBC) is finally heading to the Top 10 acts this week. The talent ranges from opera singer Donald Braswell to Elvis impersonator Joseph Hall. Judge Piers Morgan recently spoke to PEOPLE.com about the remaining talent, his rivalry with Simon Cowell and why Sarah Palin is his choice for Talent judge. –Emmet Sullivan
What do you think of the Top 10 acts?The talent level is much higher than last year. I think a lot of this is because of last year’s winner Terry Fator. When you have a winner of the show who is now a hundred million dollar act in Vegas, I think word gets out that this is a show that can change your life forever.
Anyone in particular stick out?Nuttin’ But Stringz, the two guys on the violin, are utterly unique. I’ve never seen any act that brings classical music to the sort of hip-hop street sound in the way that they do it. Four-year-old Kaitlyn Maher is an incredible story. Every time I think I’ve seen the last of Kaitlyn, she comes out and her little bottom lip trembles, and she sings the songs perfectly. You have Neal Boyd, who’s an insurance salesman and an incredible singer. You have Queen Emily, who again, fantastic story, fantastic voice. I think it’s going to be incredibly competitive this year. A lot of compare your show to American Idol. What do you think?People can say it’s a watered down Idol, but we allow any age and any talent. And in the end, I don’t mind if a singer wins if they’re genuinely the best talent. Last year the show was won by ventriloquist Terry Fator. It just happens that this year the talent has been predominantly in the singing department, but I wouldn’t put it past Nuttin’ But Stringz to win. I think it’s a very open field.
Idol just signed a fourth judge. Who would be the best fourth addition for America’s Got Talent?I’d love to have Simon Cowell. I do Britain’s Got Talent with Simon in Britain, and we do have a great relationship that’s incredibly competitive. If you get Barack Obama sitting there, that would be quite cool. I think Sarah Palin might be better. She’d be pretty tough.
So what’s it like to work with Simon?Simon’s the only person I know who is more egotistical offscreen than on it. And that is saying something, because his ego’s the size of a planet on the show. He spends most of his time in front of mirrors, doing his hair and stuff. But he’s a lot of fun. He’s done terrible things to me in Britain, where I’ll walk out and the audience will all start chanting, ‘Who are you?’ at the top of their voices. Or they’ll just greet me in total silence because he’s told them to and stuff. He’s very naughty like that.
You’re about to go head-to-head with advertising executive Donny Deutsch in the Alfred Dunhill Debate on Friday. Any thoughts heading into the debate?I think it’s going to be pretty lively and heated. Donny Deutsch thinks he’s the business king of New York, and obviously after I won Celebrity Apprentice, I’m pretty confident that I’m the business king of New York. I’m Trump’s Chosen One and I’m coming to get Donny Deutsch. I’m not coming all the way to New York to lose.