'I'm driven by revenge': Simon Cowell reveals how getting his own back on his enemies spurs him on in business
19:00 GMT, 16 May 2012
So that's his secret: Simon Cowell has revealed that he is motivated by getting revenge
He has risen from the ashes of bankruptcy to accumulate a 200 million fortune.
And X Factor supremo Simon Cowell has admitted that his meteoric rise to the top of the music industry was prompted not by a simple love of money – but by revenge.
In a revealing interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to be aired tomorrow the 52-year-old music millionaire calls himself ‘weird’ as he confesses he is driven by a desire to get his own back on his enemies.
Asked by interviewer Jim Naughtie if revenge is the key to his ambition, he says: ‘Yes. I mean you know. You’ve worked in this business for a long time, you know what it’s like. They’re not very nice people.
‘Trying to find nice people who are loyal and who you can trust in the music and television business – they are diamonds.
‘And there were a couple of people who made it difficult for me when I was starting off, or trying to get started.
‘I had a lot of people who were very negative.’
As a young record executive, Cowell had his first taste of failure when was made bankrupt in 1989 when his record label went under.
He was forced to sell his beloved Porsche and move back home to live with his parents Julie and Eric in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
In a recent interview, he admitted: ‘I’ve had many failures. The biggest were at times when I believed my own hype. I’d had smaller failures, signing bands that didn’t work, but my record company going bust, that was the first big one.
‘I was a typical Eighties clich. I had the cars, the house, the image and everything was beyond my means. I spent too much time at parties and then everything imploded.’
Big time: Simon, seen here with the new X Factor USA judges Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and LA Reid has had his fair share of failure and says negative people have spurred him on
Cowell, who clawed his way back in the music industry after signing puppets Zig and Zag followed by Robson and Jerome, claimed he was let down by people who broke his trust, although he neglected to name his early tormentors.
He said: ‘A couple of things happened along the way where it was personal for a number of reasons.
‘Because with me, loyalty and honesty is everything. If somebody breaks that with me then I have a problem. ‘
Describing himself as ‘lucky, hard-working and weird’, Cowell admitted the pressures of the music industry had driven him to strange excesses.
Crashing and burning: Simon, third from left seen with his family at his mother Julie's 70th birthday, has had his fair share of ups and downs and even filed for bankruptcy in the 1980s
A recent unauthorised biography – Sweet Revenge by journalist Tom Bower – catalogued the millionaire’s expensive habits, including his desire to be cryogenically frozen when he dies. He said: ‘You know, I actually think this business does make you a little bit odd.
‘I mean freezing myself is obviously quite strange, but there’s a kind of a logic behind that that I could come back again in a few hundred years’ time, it gives myself a fighting chance.’
However, despite the personal grudges that underpin his ambition, Cowell said he would never tire of acquiring money.
He said: ‘You don’t get paid money for losing. You get paid money for winning. And winning is a lot better than losing. I’d rather be second or first than twenty-sixth.'
The way there were: Simon hit the big time on Pop Idol alongside Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman and Neil Fox in 2002
Cowell revealed that he will axe his hit shows, the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, when ratings slide, saying: ‘I think I’ll know when it’s time for me a. to leave these shows or b. not to make these shows anymore, simply because people won’t be interested.
‘I wouldn’t want to be on something…I once described ratings going down slowly as death from a thousand cuts. I always try and get my figures up every year. If we hit a plateau or start going down then it’s time to move on. But I’m not going to self-destruct.’
He accused BBC talent show The Voice of being a copy of the X Factor – down to graphics, lighting and staging, saying: ‘When the Voice came along, it was like ‘roll your sleeves up. We’re in for a bit of a punch up here.’ I’m smiling now because we’re winning at the moment. I wasn’t so happy three weeks ago.
‘But not to the point of any silliness. It was ‘You know what, they are beating us, and we’ve got to make our shows better.’ And that’s what we did. We just tried our best to make them better.’