Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:10 PM ET
Adjectives often used to describe Simon Cowell, especially during his reign on "American Idol": cold-hearted, prickly, cruel. But off camera, departing from his TV persona, he could also be called a "hero."
According to the London Evening Standard (via Rickey.org), the ex-Idol judge known for his acid tongue saved nine people from a sinking yacht while vacationing in St. Tropez with former girlfriend Sinitta. When Cowell received a distress call on Wednesday, he sent the captain of his own personal yacht to check out the situation nearby.
On Twitter, Sinitta (who goes only by her first name, like Cher) breathlessly relayed the rescue.
"OMG!! Just had a May Day message , 35ft boat sinking.. SC has sent us to help and rescue 9 people on board! Slipstream look alike boat," she tweeted, later posting: "Everyone ok, noone hurt.captain won't let boat sink, petrol in sea etc would cause major problems and fines. No tide, so hole plugged."
Cowell will soon return stateside for the Sept. 11 premiere of the second season of "The X Factor," with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato joining him at the judges' table.