Simon Cowell Bids Farewell To 'American Idol' On 'Ellen'

Controversial judge tells DeGeneres that her 'sitting in my lap, blowing in my ear ... felt really good!'

It's the beginning of a bittersweet week for love-to-hate-him "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. Though he doesn't take his final "Idol" bow until the show's season finale Wednesday night, Cowell admitted to fellow judge Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show Tuesday (May 25) that he is both happy and sad to be leaving.

"It's kind of exciting," Cowell told DeGeneres. "I'm not being ungrateful, I've had a fantastic time, the show changed my life. But I just kind of knew that it was time to do something different."

DeGeneres then asked Cowell, whom she called "a joy to work with" on "Idol," if he's been especially joyful throughout this season because he is leaving.

"I haven't thought about it like that! I don't know, I've just felt a little bit happier, full stop. Maybe it is that, but when you're in this position you start remembering all the great times you've had. We've had a blast over the years."

Cowell said he's most proud and grateful that the show has stayed on the air for so long and that he's become friends with the cast and crew.

"We've all hopefully retained a sense of humor, nobody's changed too much — with the exception of Ryan [Seacrest], who's turned into a bit of a monster, but that was always going to happen. We've become friends and that's quite rare with people you work with."

Amid several pre-taped gags that depicted various exaggerated behind-the-scene antics (one depicted a Cowell-double reaching over to touch an Ellen-double's hands repeatedly during an assumed "Idol" taping), Cowell revealed one surprising Ellen-related warm fuzzy.

"There was one time where you were sitting in my lap, blowing in my ear," Cowell recalled. "I've got to tell you it felt really good. You're very good at that. I'm going to stop myself there — I'm going to be in trouble."

To which DeGeneres quickly responded: "You can't help it, you're attracted to beautiful women."

Ellen then sent Cowell away with a parting gift — an alarm clock that plays Seacrest's famous "And this, is American Idol!" phrase when its button is pressed.

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