Howie Mandel says Simon Cowell could return to 'America's Got Talent' this season

"I wouldn’t count him out for the live shows yet," the comedian told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager.
/ Source: TODAY

Simon Cowell may be on the sidelines after he broke his back following an electric bike accident, but don’t be surprised if he returns to “America’s Got Talent” this season.

“I was shocked. I love the guy. He’s not only my boss and my co-worker, but he’s a good friend and I was so scared and so worried, but Simon is from another planet. He’s an amazing guy,” fellow “AGT” judge Howie Mandel told Jenna Bush Hager Wednesday on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.

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Mandel also said Cowell is progressing in his recovery and that he may return to the show sooner than you’d expect.

“He broke his back in four places, he had a six-hour surgery where parts of his back were fused. They put a rod in his back,” he said.

“And I heard, it’s been more than a day now, he’s already been up on his feet and walking and I wouldn’t count him out for the live shows yet and I would imagine, and if I know anything about Simon, that there may be a Simon sighting before the end of the season. As much as it’s devastating, it’s also good news that he is going to be fine and make a full recovery.”

Kelly Clarkson has stepped in to replace Cowell, with Tuesday night’s live episode, complete with a virtual audience, serving as the first one on which she's filled in. Cowell said it’s been a seamless transition for everyone.

“It’s amazing. And Kelly was amazing. It was hard for her to judge with her chair facing the act. She’s not used to that,” he said while making a reference to her work as a coach on “The Voice.”

Howie Mandel thinks Simon Cowell may reunite with Heidi Klum, Terry Crews and Sofia Vergara on "America's Got Talent" before the season ends.NBC

“But she adapted like that,” he added while snapping his fingers.

While the show and the world deals with all the uncertainty, Mandel thinks the cast and crew have made it through with flying colors.

“We all walked into last night not knowing what to expect. This whole world has been upside down with the pandemic, with what happened to Simon and we didn’t know what they were going to do, and what an amazing team.”