Even if you've been making a concerted effort to avoid pop culture, you know who Simon Cowell is. Such is the level of Cowell's fame and influence in the entertainment industry.

A native of the UK and veteran of the music business, Cowell first became familiar to American audiences in the summer of 2002 when the reality TV series 'American Idol' premiered. A spin-off of England's similar series 'Pop Idol,' the object of the show was to find the best unsigned singer in America. From the start, it seemed as if nearly as much attention was paid to the judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson -- as to the singers themselves. Their interaction with each other could be funny and Cowell's disaffected tone and sarcastic comments in particular left viewers glued to their seats. Love him or hate him, Cowell was a huge part of 'Idol''s success. And what a success it was! Idol became the first TV series to hit No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for six consecutive seasons -- surpassing both 'All in the Family' and 'The Cosby Show'. Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks and David Cook are among the stars it has produced.

After nine seasons on 'American Idol', Cowell left the show in 2010, eager for new challenges. To that end, he is bringing his popular UK series 'The X Factor' to America later this year. Similar to 'Idol' in its theme, 'The X Factor' will premiere on Fox in September -- but auditions will be held in six American cities beginning this Sunday in Los Angeles. Cowell -- whose net worth is already said to be somewhere around $200 million -- will serve not only as executive producer of the series but also as one of the judges. In the meantime, rumors have been flying about who the other judges might be, with Mariah Carey's name recently mentioned as one of the possibilities.

PopEater recently caught up with Cowell to discuss his old and new projects -- and we were surprised at how gracious he was!