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OTRC: Simon Cowell: 'American Idol' is better this year

Simon Cowell appears on CNN's 'Piers Morgan Tonight' in a March 14, 2011 interview. (CNN / Turner Broadcasting)

Simon Cowell says "American Idol" is currently better than it was last season, when he served as one of its judges for the last time.

Cowell helped launch the hit FOX singing contest show in 2002 but quit after the end of the ninth season last year. He said on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in May that two years ago, as ratings began to decline, he became bored with the series.

In 2009, songwriter Kara DioGuardi was brought in as a fourth judge and Paula Abdul quit. Last year, Ellen DeGeneres joined the show. But DioGuardi and DeGeneres later left amid a series shakeup. Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler were brought in to become judges alongside veteran Randy Jackson.

"I personally think it is a better show than last year," Cowell said in an interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," which is set to air on CNN on March 14.

"It feels to me they've got their energy back, that they're confident, they're competitive," he said. "And I said to everybody on my show - I said, 'If you think that 'Idol' is going to be the same as last year, think again. They're going to be working 10 times as hard as I would.'"

"I think it's a good show. I can't really fault it," he added. "It's not the show I would make myself, because that's why I moved from the show in the first place, I wanted to make something different." Cowell is set to launch in the fall of 2011 a new show, "The X Factor," the U.S. version of a talent competition series he judged and developed in the United Kingdom. The new series debuts on FOX in the fall and will offer its winner a $5 million record deal.

On the current 10th season of "American Idol," Lopez and Tyler appear more compassionate when critiquing the contestants than Cowell did. The 51-year-old British music mogul was known for his acerbic tone and often insulting comments. Cowell has said in the past that he regrets some of the mean things he has said on the series.

"I always think of 'Idol' really as me, Paula and Randy," Cowell said. "I think when other people were bought in and Paula wasn't there, it was, to me, like being on a different show and because it was my last show and I'd announced I was leaving. Weird atmosphere."

Check out a teaser for Simon Cowell's interview with Piers Morgan below.

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