Simon Cowell Says ‘Jersey Shore’ Inspired ‘X Factor’

'I wanted to find the next Snooki,' Cowell admits to MTV News of seeking hopefuls with star power during New Jersey rounds.

Simon Cowell knows a star when he sees one. But fans might be surprised to learn that when the reality TV judge took his X Factor” auditions on the road this year, he was eager to hit the state of New Jersey. It turns out Simon hoped to find contestants with the same indefinable qualities as the castmembers of MTV’s hit “Jersey Shore.”

On Monday night, MTV News’ Jim Cantiello sat down with Cowell and fellow “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid, and the onetime “American Idol” judge shared his thoughts on the reality craze.

“I thought it was genius, absolute genius,” Cowell said of his initial reaction to the fist-pumping housemates. “And whether you like the show or not, these kids are suddenly big, big stars. They just make me laugh.”

Asked to pick his favorite castmember, Cowell singled out Snooki, saying the pint-size 23-year-old had that “X” factor. “In fact,” Cowell revealed, “She recently came in to meet some people from my company. I would say they were more starstruck by Snooki than anyone they’ve ever met in their lives,” he said. “I mean, they were genuinely thrilled. They were taking pictures with her.

“Yeah, so that was the reason why I came to New Jersey: I wanted to find the next Snooki.”

So did Cowell find America’s next pouf-wearing Snooki? “Well, I found someone with attitude: Brian Bradley . And that’s what we were looking for — my God we found it.”

Since wrapping up the entertaining audition rounds, the brand-new Fox show has entered its Boot Camp stage. Cowell explained that his desire was to show viewers how tough it really is to be a contestant on the competition series.

“It’s quite uncomfortable,” he admitted. “[And] I haven’t seen the finished cut yet, but it’s a lot, lot better and you really do feel you know what it’s like now to be a contestant on one of these shows and what we felt; we were under pressure as well.”

Who’s your favorite “X Factor” contestant so far? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t miss “Jersey Shore” Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.