It's been 12 years since Simon Cowell first brought his gruff and grumpy reality TV persona to the U.S. with "American Idol," but these days it seems the British talent show judge has swapped some of his trademark snark for sweet sincerity.
Cowell turns 55 on Tuesday, and while the years are bound to mellow any fellow, that might not be the only factor behind this switcheroo. After all, 2014 has brought about more than a landmark birthday; it's also the year that's seen the tough talker turn into a father.
Here are just a few examples of the kinder Cowell:
Sure, over the years on "Idol" and "X Factor," his barbs sent plenty of wannabe singers crying to their folks back home, but when Cowell's son, Eric, was born in February, the new dad showed off his tender side.
He once slammed "Idol" season four contender Constantine Maroulis for acting more like "a poodle in a leather jacket" than a tough guard dog. But as anyone who follows Cowell on Twitter knows, he just can't get enough of his own sweet little dogs.
Lots of celebs showed off their charitable side by taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but the man dubbed "Mr. Nasty" by his fans in the U.K. not only took the plunge, he giggled the whole way through it.
Bye-bye Mr. Nasty
And speaking of that Nasty moniker, even before little Eric came along, Cowell decided he was ready to drop the nickname and show a softer side to talent show contestants.
In 2012, he said, "Mr. Nasty was just a label when we first started doing these shows. You have to remember when people are auditioning they are taking it very seriously and for them it is a life-changing moment."
The more the merrier
But if it is Eric who's behind most of the Cowell's nice-guy makeover, than expect an even more laid back version of the talent show titan in the future. After the arrival of his son, Cowell told "Extra" he wants more little ones around.
"Well, I got (my dogs) Squiddly and Diddly, and I couldn't imagine Squiddly or just Diddly," he explained. "I had a brother when I was younger, so I kind of think it's cool to have two or three ... two."
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