He was called rude, annoying, vain, smug and mean. But Simon Cowell, the music mogul behind numerous hit singles and one of the creators and co-judges of the hugely successful talent show, "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ), asserted that he was never nasty for sadistic reasons; he truly believed he was helping aspiring singers understand when they had no talent. "All we [were] doing [was] telling people who don't have a chance in hell that they don't have a chance in hell." Because of his harsh but entertaining putdowns, Cowell became more well-known than the stars he was creating, and that brash personality helped make "American Idol" a cultural phenomenon. Cowell evolved into a multi-media powerhouse, launching a record label as well as film and TV production companies that fueled the reality trend by creating half a dozen more international talent competitions.