Simon Cowell, the infamous sharp-tongued American Idol judge, announced Monday that he will be leaving the show at the end of the current ninth season. After nearly a decade with Idol, Cowell will move on to become the judge and executive producer of an American version of his hit British program, X Factor. His new show is set to debut in Fall 2011 on Fox during an Idol hiatus. Cowell expressed eagerness to return to the challenge of fronting a brand new series. "I loved that first year on Idol when I didn’t know know whether it would work or not," Cowell told a news conference. "I have that feeling now [about X-Factor.]" He also insists that his departure will not hurt the show that first made him famous to U.S. audiences. "I’m confident Idol will continue to be the No. 1 show. I want to leave Idol this year bigger and better than it’s been before." This news follows Paula Adbul’s 2009 decision to quit the show after a salary dispute. Once Cowell leaves, Randy Jackson will be the last remaining original Idol judge. –MEGHAN GROSSO

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