Simon's $1 Million Payday

Maybe American Idol's Mr. Nasty should change his name to Diamond Simon.

Simon Cowell, the brutally honest British judge on Fox's hit talent search show, will return for the show's second season early next year for $1 million, according to trade reports. 

Cowell has emerged as one of the show's biggest stars, offering his frank and often insulting commentary of contestants. 

A Fox spokesman would not confirm the deal yesterday. 

There has been no word yet on Cowell's fellow judges, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, who are expected to return. 

Cowell, a 20-year-plus industry veteran, began his music industry career with EMI Music Publishing during the '70s and owns his own record label, S Records. 

Cowell, 42, appeared last year on the British show that started it all, Pop Idol, won by Will Young, who sang on the showdown between Justin and Kelly on Tuesday night. 

Until this week, Idol -- a cross between Survivor and Star Search -- aired live, twice a week on Fox. On Tuesdays, contestants perform live. After the show, viewers call in phone number to vote for which contestant they want to advance to the next round. 

Last spring, Cowell, Abdul and Jackson traveled to six U.S. cities and auditioned more than 10,000 potential pop-stars for the show.

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