May 19, 2007 / 12:27 AM / 13 years ago

Cowell says he can't predict "Idol" winner

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British music mogul Simon Cowell says he is not as smart or as mean as people think — he cannot predict who will win “American Idol” and he wants contestants on the show to be rude to him when he is offensive to them.

Judge Simon Cowell attends the party for the 12 finalists of the television show "American Idol" at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles March 9, 2006. British music mogul Cowell says he is not as smart or as mean as people think -- he cannot predict who will win "American Idol" and he wants contestants on the show to be rude to him when he is offensive to them. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The grumpy judge, whose acerbic comments draw boos each week on the top-rated televised singing contest, said on Friday this year’s show has come down to a choice between a “brilliant entertainer” and a “great singer.”

Jordin Sparks, a bubbly 17-year-old with huge voice, and spiky-haired Blake Lewis, 25, who puts a modern twist on classic songs, will square off next week in the two-part finale on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I can’t call it at this stage,” Cowell told reporters on a conference call. “For Blake, he’s a brilliant entertainer, but the negative is he’s not a fantastic singer. The advantage for Jordin is she is a great singer and the negative is she hasn’t done one performance yet which I can remember as a ‘wow.’”

Cowell also entreated the “Idol” contestants to give back more of what he dishes out to them.

“They all think they are going to be voted off if they are rude to me,” he said. “If I’m rude to them they are more than entitled to be rude to me back.”

Cowell said he was amused by the long “Idol” run of Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant known for extreme hairstyles and mediocre singing.

“The whole Sanjaya thing was hysterical,” said Cowell, who once threatened to quit if Malakar won. “I don’t think I’d be happy if he was in the final, but looking back I think it was quite amusing.”

Cowell said it was “unfair” that contestant Melinda Doolittle was eliminated from the show this week.

“She had delivered 10 weeks in a row better than anyone else,” he said, adding that the experienced backup singer’s age — Doolittle is 29 — may have made her less appealing to the show’s teenage viewers.

“When you allow the public to choose, you’ve got to live and die by the vote,” Cowell said.

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