He doesn't mean to be rude, but he has made a lucrative career out of it. The international success of Simon Cowell's media projects is testament to his cultural clout - as is his £165m fortune.
His trademark acerbic denunciation of aspiring talent is now commonplace in popular culture. ITV's financial health depends on him; a debut series of The X Factor will launch in the US next year.
When David Cameron praised him, Cowell returned the favour with a tabloid endorsement of the future prime minister. This consummate kingmaker can turn anything into a winner.
Previous: 40. Mohammed Yunus 
Next: 42. Zaha Hadid 
Back to list