Simon Cowell says it'll be raw talent, and perhaps a bit of Irish luck, that propels the next winner of "American Idol."

"The only person I can genuinely remember from the auditions that I've done for this season is an Irish girl that we saw in Las Vegas who now lives in America," Cowell told The Post Monday.

"I think she sang a Chaka Khan song and afterwards I said, 'I think we may have found someone as good as [first season winner-turned-superstar] Kelly Clarkson.' "

Cowell said he forgot the contestant's name.

Other strong contenders include a group of 16- and 17-year-old girls from around the U.S., he said. "I think probably the girls are going to be much stronger than the guys this year," Cowell said.

Last season, without saying her name, Cowell correctly predicted that Oklahoma cutie Carrie Underwood would win "Idol."

"I'm telling you that there is a blond girl who can really sing. I saw her when we cut it down from 200 to 40," he told "Extra" last January.

Meanwhile, Cowell swears that in all his time on "Idol," he never heard one whiff of backstage gossip that his colleague, embattled former pop-star Paula Abdul, was having a sexual relationship with one-time finalist Corey Clark.

Clark made the accusation last year in an edition of ABC News' "Primetime." Abdul was later cleared by FOX, which conducted its own internal investigation.

Cowell says that when he was watching the "Primetime" episode, it reminded him of the mockumentary "Best in Show."

"It was rather like that movie which is a parody of a real-life event," Cowell said. "When he [Clark] started singing that song about 'I Miss You Paula' — which is on his ghastly new album — I realized that it was all just a waste of time.

"I would swear on the Bible," says Cowell. "I've never, ever, ever seen Paula acting close with a contestant in all the time I've been on the show."

Cowell is promoting his new "Idol"-style show for ABC, called "American Inventor." On the new series, which Cowell produces but does not appear in, wannabe Thomas Edisons duke it out to create the next big gizmo.

The winner gets the invention put into mass production and offered for sale at a major chain retailer in around 3,500 stores.

"It is another American dream-type of show," says Cowell. "The goal is to find someone who is perhaps down-on-their-luck, who may have poured all their money into one idea and on a show like this you never know what's going to happen.

"As a viewer, you're able to understand the process, you're able to say, 'that is a fantastic idea,' or 'that's the worst idea I've ever heard of in my life.' "

So far, about 5,000 people have applied to appear on the show, which begins filming in February.

Potential contestants can apply for on