Nellie Andreeva

The always suave Simon Cowell made a rare misstep during a conference call today about his new Fox reality series The X Factor. When he was asked what he thought about new American Idol judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, he professed that he hadn’t seen a full episode of Idol yet this season, just a three-minute recap last week. He did make a quick recovery. “From what I’ve seen and from what I’ve heard, it all seems to be going well, I always thought that would be the case,” he said. “What I was more concerned about was the ratings falling off a cliff, meaning that that the whole genre is now over. But people are still excited about these shows, whether Dancing With the Stars, which has gotten better over the years, or America’s Got Talent.” He ultimately returned to the original question about Tyler and JLo, saying “I think they’ve done a good job.”

There was a lot of talk about who will join Cowell on the judging panel of The X Factor this fall. “We haven’t made up our minds up yet”, Cowell said, adding that he expects to make the announcement in 3-4 weeks. He didn’t comment on the persistent rumor that the pretty 27-year-old British singer Cheryl Cole, a judge on the U.K. version of The X Factor, will also be on the Fox show, but said that he is looking for judges whom “the American audience will find interesting, who know what they are talking about … and it also helps that they’re cute.”

Cowell also deflected a question about Paula Abdul’s chances to be an X Factor judge. “I’m a massive fan of Paula, we were friends on the show for 80% of the time and we’ve been in regular contact after that,” was all he said.

Cowell was asked about the controversial decision to set the lower age limit for X Factor at 12 years. (There is no upper age limit on the show.)

“Five-six years ago I wouldn’t have done it,” Cowell said.”But times have changed. Over the last 12 months, I have seen what kids of that age can do to withstand the pressure. It makes the competition more exciting, with a 12-year-old who could be competing against a 45-year-old.” As for older contestants, “(Britain’s Got Talent star) Susan Boyle taught me a huge lesson that I have to be more open-minded,” he said.

Cowell said he created X Factor because “I got bored of just judging. I wanted to make a show where I, with my fellow judges, could help people on a daily basis, that’s what I do at a record company. And it’s an interesting thing to be judged as a competitor.”

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.

For all of Deadline's headlines, follow us @Deadline on Twitter.