Cowell also enjoyed success with more conventional pop outfits such as boy bands Five and Westlife, however. And, as it turns out, he would become a star himself in 2001, when he emerged from behind the scenes to become the U.K.’s most brutally honest talent show judge on TV phenomenon Pop Idol. Cowell then did the same on the other side of the Atlantic when he signed on as a judge on the equally successful American Idol.
And Cowell went on to create his very own talent show, The X Factor, in which he starred alongside Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne. The show became an even bigger success than Pop Idol in the U.K., launching the careers of stars like Leona Lewis, Little Mix and One Direction, to name just a few. The mogul also took the show to America – although the U.S. version proved to be less popular than its British counterpart, lasting just three seasons in all.
Cowell has enjoyed further success with the … Got Talent format, which launched Susan Boyle to worldwide fame. He’s also been twice named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. And thanks to his role as founder of British entertainment company Syco, he currently has an estimated fortune of over $400 million.