X Factor

Paula Abdul calls Simon Cowell her 'best teacher'

Sep. 20, 2011 at 9:47 AM ET

Somewhere in between all of the barbs, the stinging banter and the constant back-and-forth Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul have long loved to engage in, the pair formed a special bond. That odd link carried them through their days on “American Idol,” led to their new “X Factor” partnership and according to Abdul, it even taught her to be her best.

Before Abdul and Cowell make their “X Factor” debut Wednesday night, the choreographer-turned-singer-turned-talent-judge stopped by TODAY to talk about that unique relationship and hint at what’s to come on their latest venture.

"We’re like an old married couple without the sex," Abdul told TODAY host Ann Curry of her bond with Cowell before quickly adding, "By choice! We both race to say ‘by choice.’ ... We get along well. I mean, it took 10 years to understand each other. (But Simon’s) been my best teacher. He’s taught me. I’ve always known I’m a strong woman, but he really taught me some inner strength. He always provoked me and challenged me, and the more I stood up for myself and stood up to him, the more he embraced me.”

Which is why Abdul jumped at the chance to work with Cowell again on “The X Factor,” a show she stressed won’t be a carbon copy of “Idol” — a point that’s obvious just from the contestant pool, which will include hopefuls as young as 12, and the prize money alone.

“The 12-year-olds are fiercely competitive,” Abdul said. “I mean, just as passionate (as older contestants) and their work ethic is, like, unparalleled. There’s no age limit going upwards, so it’s nice. It gives people a second or third chance to come back and compete.”

And they might appreciate that chance considering what the winner walks away with.

“The prize is $5 million, and they get a Pepsi campaign in the Super Bowl as well,” she boasted. “It’s insanity.”

 Simon Cowell will visit TODAY Wednesday morning and give his take on the insanity.

“The X Factor” premieres Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Will you tune in to see Cowell and Abdul’s “X Factor” chemistry? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


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