Paula Abdul And Simon Cowell Couldn't Stand Each Other In The Early American Idol Days

Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell were among the original judges of the hit series "American Idol" along with music manager Randy Jackson. The trio remained on the panel, welcoming thousands of aspiring musicians as a team through Season 8, after which Abdul left the show. While the three judges may have disagreed several times on which contestants would be a star, it often appeared — on-camera, at least — that the three were tight-knit. However, behind the scenes, there was a feud brewing between Abdul and Cowell.

It's not completely clear what started their beef, but Abdul has admitted she would often kick her former rival under the table during judging. However, there were rumors that Cowell and Abdul were secretly dating during the show, though both have denied this. During an October 2019 appearance on "Watch What Happens Live," when Abdul was asked about any romantic involvement with Cowell, she replied, "No! I mean, ew! No!" While she didn't give an explanation for her apparent disgust at the question, Cowell had a much more salacious theory about their feud, which resulted in the two being forced to arrive at the "Idol" set separately.

The pair couldn't travel together at the beginning of the show

While it's far from being one of the biggest scandals in "American Idol" history, according to wealthy music executive Simon Cowell, the issues between him and Paula Abdul stemmed from an alleged desire to sleep with one another. When speaking with journalist Barbara Walters in December 2011 after Cowell and the choreographer had left "American Idol," he claimed "sexual tension" led to their ugly feud. "I mean, the truth was, on the first two seasons, we couldn't travel on the same plane together. We really disliked each other that much" [via The Hollywood Reporter].

Their disdain for one another was also documented two years earlier when the "Knocked Out" performer referred to Cowell as a "masterful bully" when speaking with ABC's "Nightline" in 2009, though she didn't mention any potential attraction. His antics caused her to quit a total of seven times during her first day on set. "I couldn't believe that that someone was actually getting away with crushing fragile kids. This happens behind your back, [not] in front of your face," she explained. Their "Idol" days may have been tumultuous, but the pair have seemingly overcome their rocky past.

Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul went on to work together after leaving American Idol

Despite some uncomfortable moments while filming "American Idol," the Syco Music founder hired Paula Abdul when he branched off to his own music competition series, "X-Factor." In May 2011, Simon Cowell and Fox announced her as a judge on the series. She left just one year later, with one insider telling The Hollywood Reporter that her role on the series as a mentor might've been "irrelevant to the mix."

Since her exit from "X-Factor," Abdul and Cowell appear to have a friendly relationship. In September 2019, the duo and Randy Jackson, who left "Idol" in 2014, reunited with the help of Kelly Clarkson, who won the first season of "American Idol." During the appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Cowell admitted: "If I had one wish it'd be to make another show with us again. That would be my number one wish." Though it is unclear whether this will ever happen, the one-time coworkers appear to be in a good position to accomplish it.