If his show's UK version is any indication of it's imminent success in the U.S., Americans better brace themselves because the ever-caustic Simon Cowell is coming back to local TV sets with the highly anticipated singing competition, The X Factor.
Unlike American Idol, the show that made Cowell more recognizable than the Vice President in most U.S. households, The X Factor is looking for talent young and old, solo or in groups. The winner of the competition will also receive a record-breaking $5 million record deal, the largest guaranteed prize in television history.
"The show is basically it's a singing competition, just to be clear, but it's a singing competition with a twist," Cowell said. "The show is open to anyone who can sing from 12 years old up to -- there's no upper limit. So solo artists can enter of any age and groups can enter, but vocal groups. So, a Destiny's Child, The Jacksons, 'N Sync, Spice Girls, Justin Bieber, Diana Ross, they're all in the same competition."
Cowell said he is bringing his show to the U.S. because he genuinely believes he will find the next international superstar. To do so, auditions will be held starting March 27 in Los Angeles, and will continue across the country in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York and New Jersey, and Seattle.
However, even those in Birmingham and Alabama will be able audition without driving hundreds of miles. In the coming weeks, show organizers will make other audition opportunities public which will allow anyone in America (12 years or older) to compete, regardless of where they live.
On the new show, contestants will have to audition not only for the judges, but also in front of a live audience of thousands. This will prove whether or not they have the vocal ability, charisma and stage presence it takes to really become a superstar.
"I love having the audience there because everyone's suddenly a judge - everyone's an expert," Cowell said. "But actually, on this show, you get that chance, because you make your presence felt. I mean if you love somebody, you show the support. If you hate them, you can make your presence felt. And if you think we're wrong, - rare - you can also change our minds occasionally."
Fans of Cowell's abrasive criticism need not worry—his presence on The X Factor is expected to be just as biting as ever, perhaps even more so. Mike Darnell, the President of Alternative Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company said the British version is wildly entertaining, but also has a penchant for stirring up controversy.
"You never know what Simon has up his sleeve, and since he will be working both behind and in front of the camera, the country should brace itself to expect the unexpected," Darnell said.
The show's host and panel of four judges are expected to be unveiled soon. The judges will also each be responsible for a certain category of entertainers, such as young women, or group acts. Judges will mentor contestants in their category and make decisions as to what songs they sing, what clothes they wear and what dances they perform.
But Cowell hopes the thing most different from other vocal competitions is the inevitable winner.
"I'd love to find somebody different. I'd love to find somebody who can become a star all over the world, I'd love to say we found this person on this show," he said. "It's not just about selling a few records... You want to give somebody a career; you want to give them a platform and you want the whole world to know about them… You don't want to think small."
Solo singers and vocal groups who would like to audition can sign up at fox.com/theXfactor, where they can find additional details including eligibility requirements and other rules.