David Hasselhoff pointed to pal Simon Cowell's persuasiveness as the reason he decided to sign on as a judge on "America's Got Talent," a new NBC reality show produced by the "American Idol" guru.

"He called me up and said, `Would you do this?' And I said, `I don't want to be a judge!' And he said, `Come on, it's fun! You're funny!"'

And, shrugged Hasselhoff, "Because it's Simon, I did it."

The 53-year-old actor-singer, who played lifeguard Mitch Buchannon on "Baywatch" for 11 years, is one of three judges, along with singer Brandy and British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan. The show, an "Idol"-like talent contest hosted by Regis Philbin, arrives Wednesday, 9 p.m. EDT.

The series features a wide variety of acts, from singers to magicians to pet tricks. The winner, chosen by viewers, will receive a prize of $1 million.

While judging the contestants at auditions, Hasselhoff told The Associated Press on Monday, he was "sweet" at first, but now demands talent and doesn't "give anybody a break anymore."

He even gave a thumbs-down to an elderly woman who was "trying to call the birds."

"I laughed so hard I had to go under the table," he recalled. "I was crying, I put my hand up on the (elimination buzzer).

"I said, `Darling, the birds aren't calling."'

Has Hasselhoff, who was in the "Idol" audience and openly wept when Taylor Hicks won last month, turned into the cantankerous Cowell?

"No, I'm just me," he said. "I just came on the show and I said I'm going to have fun. And I'm not going to try to be witty, I'm not going to do anything, I'm just going to have fun."

Hasselhoff's latest big-screen credit, he described, is the role of Adam Sandler's "eccentric, over-the-top boss" in the comedy "Click," which opens Friday.