Simon Cowell Has 'Horrible Nightmare' He's Nice on The X Factor

X Factor: Simon Cowell Dreams He's a Nice Judge
From left: The X Factor judges L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

07/13/2011 AT 11:45 AM EDT

New show, new attitude?

In a preview of Fox's upcoming singing competition, The X Factor", show creator and judge Simon Cowell seems to be putting his familiar not-so-nice American Idol ways behind him.

Cowell, 51, who for nine seasons was known for his often cranky and critical feedback at the Idol judges's table, now is all smiles as he applauds and praises X Factor hopefuls in the clip ("I love your spirit," he tells one young girl).

Of course, it's all "a horrible nightmare," and when the sneak peek continues (watch below), the judging panel – Cowell, L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger – is not playing nice.

Could this be a dig at Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, who showed a softer side to judging this past Idol season?

"Absolute, total rubbish," Cowell, true to his familiar Idol style, tells an aspiring contestant in a clip from the auditions.

The preview also veers from the Idol path with product placement: The X Factor judges are seen sipping from Pepsi (not Coca-Cola) cups, and the show features Chevrolet (not Ford) cars.

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