Simon Cowell Says It Won’t Be Hard To Leave ‘American Idol’

Ryan Seacrest and judges visit 'Larry King Live' to promote 'Idol Gives Back.'

Simon Cowell has not publicly talked very much about his feelings on leaving “American Idol” at the end of the current season. But on Monday night’s “Larry King Live,” where the judges and Ryan Seacrest were promoting this week’s “Idol Gives Back” show, Cowell opened up a bit about his thoughts on his impending departure after nine seasons.

“No, no, it’s not,” Cowell said when King asked him if it will be hard to leave. “I’ve been there years. … No. Genuinely, I’ve had the best time of my life. I’m very grateful. As you say, lucky. But you always know when it’s the right time to go. And I’ll look back and say we’ve had a great time. And I always promised myself I wanted to leave and be able to say that.”

Asked if he might miss the show he helped turn into the biggest TV hit of the modern era, Cowell said yes and no. “I’ll probably miss it at times,” he said. “But, you know, you can’t keep doing the same thing year after year after year. You can’t.”

At one point, Cowell joked about being at home next year, watching the show, and fellow judge Randy Jackson said he was going to have a special Batphone on the judges’ table during the 2011 season, so he can call Simon and get his opinion on the singers.

While viewers at home have witnessed an “Idol” season full of more on-screen tension than ever before, Cowell said that most of the testy back-and-forth between himself and Seacrest is a put-on and that they are friendly in real life. “No, we get on fine,” he said. “It’s right that it’s sport.”

Ellen DeGeneres also denied any real tension between the men, saying they were more like battling siblings. “They really are like brothers,” she said. “I think that Ryan likes to see what he can do to push Simon’s buttons. And Simon likes to see what he can do to push Ryan’s buttons. And they do it to each other. That’s just the way they play.”

Asked how her first season was going, DeGeneres said she was having fun, but that the gig has been harder than she expected. “It’s really hard,” she said. “It’s easy to sit at home and have opinions, but when those kids are waiting for you to tell them how they sounded and — and, you know, sometimes I hear myself go, ’I liked it,’ and then Simon is going, ’No, you didn’t,’ you know.”

Seacrest confirmed that he’d just signed a new contract that will keep him on the show for two more seasons, while DeGeneres said she’s got a five-year deal and both Jackson and DioGuardi have at least two more years on their current contracts.

Earlier in the show, Seacrest told King that “Idol Gives Back” has raised more than $140 million to date for different child-related and anti-malaria charities, and all the judges discussed their travels to visit various organizations for Wednesday night’s two-hour fundraiser/elimination show. After taking a year off due to the financial crisis, the third edition of the all-star show will feature Justin Bieber, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood and the Black Eyed Peas.

Which artist are you most excited to see on this week’s “Idol Gives Back”? Talk about it in the comments below.

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