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Cowell says he'll quit American Idol to unleash his X Factor on US

Simon Cowell announced he is leaving American Idol to launch The X Factor in the US. Cowell, who first launched The X Factor in the UK in 2004, will serve as both executive producer and judge on the US version, which will be screened by Fox next year.

He said it would have been difficult for him to do both X Factor and Idol.

Speaking in Pasadena, California, yesterday at a meeting of the Television Critics Association, Cowell said he reached an agreement with senior Fox executives only a few hours before.

Cowell said: "I was offered a lot of money to stay on. But that wasn't the reason behind it. I wanted to do something different. I wanted a new challenge."

In a statement released by Fox, Cowell said: "I'm thrilled that we have put a date on the launch of the US version of The X Factor, and delighted to be continuing to work with Fox.

"We have a fantastic relationship, a great team and are all very excited about this."

Mike Darnell, president of Alternative Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company, said: "We have had a very successful relationship with Simon Cowell for many years, and we're absolutely delighted to continue our relationship with him.

"The X Factor has been a massive success around the world, and we can't wait to bring it to the US in 2011."

Cecile Frot-Coutaz, chief executive of FremantleMedia North America, said: "The X Factor has enjoyed an unparalleled success in its UK home market and globally."

As the highly-rated British X Factor series finished last year, Cowell said shows in Los Angeles and Las Vegas were being lined up, and hinted that versions for countries such as Afghanistan or North Korea should not be ruled out, and added that he was also considering launching a referendum-type TV show.