Paula Abdul was "grown-up" about getting canned

Feb 29, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. ET

Simon Cowell said he didn't want to fire Paula Abdul from The X Factor, but he was forced into it -- and his longtime friend took it like a champ.

Paula Abdul Simon CowellIf Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul are total BFFs like we thought they were, how on earth could he have fired her from The X Factor? Cowell said it actually was not his choice at all, and if he had his way she's still be sitting next to him on set.

The head honcho told Reality Rocks that he was perfectly happy with the status quo and it was the network who balked.

"I was happy with the show last year," Cowell said. "I was kind of thinking this year, as we all were, what the marketplace was going to be like in a year's time. And what we anticipated was a big competition between us and American Idol, plus the chance that The Voice may compete with us in the fall. Plus the change in the music scene, which is we predicted that pop music was going to make a big comeback -- you're definitely going see that starting with One Direction, who ironically were on the U.K. X Factor, a boy band who could debut at number one on the album charts in a couple weeks' time."

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"This is just the beginning, so the show was really gearing up to take all of that into account. And the thing with Paula in particular was that the network felt was that it was still too similar to what we had done on Idol, and they wanted to separate the shows further. So it's sad that we're losing them, but you hope that the changes will overall make the show do better this year, because that's all we were thinking about."

No worries though -- he claims Abdul took the news like a champ.

"I loved being back with Paula again. We had a fantastic time, and I had to speak to her on the night [the firings were] announced. But she was very, very gracious and cool and very grown-up about it. But the network felt quite strongly; they wanted to say that those days of me being associated with Idol are over and it's time to see something brand new."

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And as for those who say he kinda sucks for letting longtime friends like Paula and Cheryl Cole get the ax, Cowell said that it's quite the opposite: He's helped them make a ton of money already.

"I would counter that by saying that [Paula and Cheryl] worked with us on shows for a long time, I've supported them, and everyone's made a lot of money out of it! So look at it in the real world: That is show business," he explained.

"I don't make these decisions on my own. Of course, you can fight for people, but you don't always win the battle. I had to really, really push to get Paula on the show on the first year and I'm glad she did it, as I think it's been good for her. She's going to go on now to other things, so it's slightly unfair for people to say that about me. Because on the back of what we've done for these people, they have massive opportunities ahead of them."

Auditions for The X Factor season two are currently underway at The X Factor USA website.

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