Simon Cowell Makes His Prediction for Who’ll Win Idol

Simon Cowell Makes His Prediction for Who’ll Win Idol
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

05/25/2010 AT 12:00 AM EDT

It's down to the final two on American Idol, and the way Simon Cowell sees it, the dark horse has become the front-runner for the season-nine crown.

"If you'd asked me five or six weeks ago, 100 percent I would have said Crystal Bowersox. But now I've changed my mind. I think Lee DeWyze is going to win," Cowell tells fellow judge Ellen DeGeneres in an interview airing Tuesday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Like many viewers across the country, Cowell, 50, is captivated by DeWyze's story. "He's worked in a paint shop," he says. "He's talented. He hasn't had any real breaks in life, and this has given him a shot, and I like that."

DeWyze and Bowersox, both 24, give their final performances Tuesday night, with the finale set for Wednesday. That will also be Cowell's last show after nine seasons on the FOX talent show. He has said he's been bored lately, but now he says it's bittersweet to be leaving.

"I am feeling a bit sad because we're nearly there. But at the same time, do you remember that last three weeks when you were leaving school, and you kind of couldn't wait to get out? It's a little bit like that," he says. "I'm not being ungrateful. I've had a fantastic time, and the show changed my life, but I just kind of knew it was time to do something different."

DeGeneres tells Cowell she had "no idea" how much she would end up liking Cowell. He returns the compliment, and then clears up a lingering issue between them -- that he announced he was leaving on Ellen's first day on the show.

"I do actually feel guilty about that," he says. "Two hours before your starting, I held a press conference to say, by the way, I'm leaving. Nice way for you to start."

DeGeneres replies: "It was an interesting way to start, but you know, things happened the way they happened, and I really have enjoyed my time."

"So have I," says Cowell. … - Tim Nudd

Sign up for PEOPLE's American Idol Finale Live Blog to talk with editors on Wednesday during Lee and Crystal's big night

Tell us: Is Simon right? Who do you want to win American Idol?Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

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