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50 People Who Matter 2010 | 41. Simon Cowell

Judge dread.

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.


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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter