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Lady Gaga tops Simon’s ‘Idol’ mentor wish list

Acerbic judge thinks Lady Gaga is currently the most relevant pop artist in the world, and also explains what skills his replacement will need to have — a skill Howard Stern lacks.
/ Source: news services

"American Idol" judge Simon Cowell said on Thursday he would like to have glam singer Lady Gaga as a mentor this year to the aspiring pop stars on the top-rated TV talent show.

And Cowell said the No. 1 requirement for his replacement as a judge next year was solid music industry experience, which would seem to rule out American shock jock Howard Stern, who has been lobbying hard for the coveted job on his Sirius XM radio show.

"I know Howard's name has been in there, but I am fairly certain there hasn't been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show," Cowell told reporters in a conference call.

"He doesn't seem to fit any of these (music industry) criteria. But he obviously wants the job! Good luck to him."

The acerbic British judge has been a fixture on the No. 1 TV show since it began in 2002. But he announced in January that he would be leaving at the end of the current season to launch his own talent contest in 2011.

Asked who would be his dream mentor in his final year, Cowell said, "I think we should have Lady Gaga because she is the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment. So I think she should be No. 1 (on the list). And I've met her. She is very smart. I like her."

Cowell brushed aside media reports that he had clashed with "American Idol's" newest judge, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, calling her a "good choice."

"She is very responsible for people she has performing on her own show. ... She loves music and she has been an artist," he said.

But he kept his famously brutal opinions to himself when asked to name his favorites for his own job.

“You’ve gotta be good looking,” he joked.

The semifinalists for season nine have been selected. Here's a look at each of the final 24 contestants.

"It's like judging ice skating at the Olympics. ... You genuinely need to know what you are talking about. Over the years (TV) judges have been replaced by personalities, and that in the long term will create problems because you have got to be able to spot a star.

"You've just got to find someone who can actually make a difference to the contestants, who is not afraid to speak their minds, who is prepared to be honest and occasionally blunt, but not to be gratuitously rude," said Cowell, who runs a successful record label and created the TV shows "America's Got Talent" and "The X Factor."

Cowell shot down a host of suggestions for replacements, including record producer Steve Lillywhite and ex-Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher.

One person he did suggest could be judge’s material is celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.

“Perez would be funny,” Cowell laughed. “He’s got a good taste in music. He’s a personality. I mean that could work.”

Cowell added that he wanted to "go out on a high", saying, "It is my last season. I want it to be successful and I'll do everything I can to make it happen."

The acerbic judge also noted that he believes a woman is likely to win this season.

“We’ve had a few years of guys winning the show, and I would say there is definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year, certainly, than last year,” Cowell said.

Whatever the gender, Cowell said he just wants to crown someone relevant.

“I’d love to find a Taylor Swift,” he said.

The bachelor Briton did not address media reports this week that he was engaged to marry "American Idol" make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy. The rumors came after Cowell reportedly described himself as "smitten" with Hussainy in a British TV interview to be aired in March.

Reuters and Access Hollywood contributed to this report.