And now Cowell – who has One Direction signed to his label Syco – is opening up about how he really feels about working with the band, how long they’ll be on their break – and why his time on Idol sometimes made him feel like he’d “wasted” his life.
Here are a few of the biggest revelations from his sit-down with Billboard.
He says – only kind of jokingly – that working with One Direction was “a nightmare” at first.
“They were like five puppies – really excited, loads of opinions, always wanted to hang out.”
And now that they’re on hiatus, he doesn’t know when – or if – they’ll get back together.
“I don’t know if it’s a hiatus or a breakup, to be honest … In a weird way, I don’t want to know … They’ll decide when they want to come back together.”
The rest of the 1D guys didn’t believe Zayn Malik was leaving, at first.
Dominic Monaghan Has Some Harsh Words for One Direction
“But the boys hadn’t bought into the fact that he was leaving, so out of respect for them, it wasn’t the right thing to put him on Syco.”
He thinks Harry Styles‘ solo album will be great … whenever he decides to make it.
“He’ll work out what kind of record he wants to make because he’s got great taste – which is always a help. All the writers and producers want to work with him, understandably, but he probably won’t rush into it.”
He would sometimes think he “wasted” his life doing American Idol.
“It’s not easy; I’m not going to lie to you I get genuinely miserable. On Idol, especially the last few seasons, you’d finish the year and think, ‘I wasted nine months of my life.'”