They sparred a lot on Idol, but Cowell, 51, is clearly fond of Abdul, 48 – so much so that he is reportedly recruiting her to join him on the judging panel of his new Fox talent search, The X Factor.
"I missed her the second she left [Idol]," Cowell tells Deadline.com. "Always loved working with her, even though she can be a pain."
Antonio "L.A." Reid, the former chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, and English singer Cheryl Cole, a former judge on the British version of The X Factor, will join Cowell and Abdul on the panel if all goes according to plan. According to the report, the deals aren't yet finalized for Abdul and Cole.
Cowell called Reid his "No. 1 choice to sit alongside me on the show." Of Cole, he says, "When I offered her the job ... I thought she was bright, cute, knew what she was talking about."
Cowell has said he wants a certain amount of friction among the judges. "There should be tension to a point," he said last month. "I liked the Idol panel when we first started. We had different opinions, and I think it's important you have different opinions."