X Factor JudgeA week after the bloodbath on his Fox series The X Factor, in which judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones were axed, Simon Cowell today addressed the controversy. In an interview with confidant and former flame, Extra’s Terri Seymour, he suggested that the pink slips came via a direct order from Fox. “It was fairly straight what they wanted, and we were told it had to happen straight away,” Cowell said. He praised Abdul for being “gracious” about her dismissal in their phone conversation. “She understands it’s business; it’s never personal… I would’ve liked to have kept her.”

As for Scherzinger, “I don’t think she’s mad. I think she’s disappointed,” Cowell said. He heaped praise on “L.A.” Reid, the only personality beside him to make it to Season 2. “There’s not a record executive out there who is as good as him for the job.”

Cowell dismissed suggestions that things didn’t quite work on the first season of The X Factor, evoking his now infamous pre-launch ratings prediction. “Most things did work. It’s only because I opened my big mouth and said we were going to get 20 million [viewers]. If I hadn’t said that, everybody would be saying the show as a new show was a huge success.”

UPDATE: Britney Spears X Factor Judge — Offered $10 Million To Become Judge On The Show

Cowell shot down an Internet rumor that he is after pop star Beyonce for a new judge, saying that he hasn’t spoken to her while inadvertently revealing X Factor‘s budget. “I read it online that I offered her $100 million a year. It’s complete nonsense. The budget of the  show is $100 million a year.” Also not on the list, fellow new mom Mariah Carey. “I would love her, but you can’t expect someone who’s just had two kids to make the kind of commitment you would need on this show.” Elton John? “No. He wouldn’t do it. And it would be very difficult to work with him.” Madonna? “She would be great” but “expensive.”  Katy Perry? “She would be fun –she’s hard in a good way, and she’s feisty.”

Cowell also dismissed a notion that he is necessarily after A-list stars and suggested that having Grammy-winning stars hasn’t helped NBC’s The Voice much. “I would ask… how many hit records have they made? How many artists have they discovered?”