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Sad news for American Idol fans as Simon Cowell has confirmed he will be leaving the hit show when his contract ends after the 2010 season.

This comes weeks after numerous reports speculated the AI ‘mean’ judge would be exiting the show.  Simon will judge and produce an American version of his British hit music show, The X Factor. His new show is set to debut on Fox in Fall 2011.

“Because of that this will be my last season on American Idol,” he announced Monday.  “I felt like doing something different,” he explained. “I want to leave Idol this year bigger and better than it’s been before.”

In an interview with Extra, Simon says money was not a factor in his quiting the show. He said he simply wanted and needed a new challenge. The Today Show reported Simon was offered 144 million dollars to do both American Idol and The X Factor, an offer he declined.

There are also rumors that Simon is courting former AI judge Paula Abdul to become one of the judges on the X Factor. When asked about those Paula rumors, he said: “I adore Paula. Whatever happens with her, I will be working with her in some capacity because I miss her.”

Simon was reportedly earning 34 millions a year as an AI judge.

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