In Depth

The Multitaskers: Simon Cowell

Founder, Syco TV, and judge on “American Idol”

Another super-successful Simon—Simon Fuller—created “American Idol,” but it’s Mr. Cowell and his snarky snap judgments that hold the key to the Fox show’s long-term success. He is the heart of “Idol,” and it’s hard to imagine that Fox won’t continue to pay dearly to keep Mr. Cowell right where he is, even as other aspects of the show change.

TVWeek’s Real Power

Like his “Idol” colleague (and Real Power list-mate) Ryan Seacrest, Mr. Cowell has used his on-camera celebrity to strengthen his behind-the-scenes power as a producer. He used it to mount the British hit “The X Factor,” an “Idol”-like show that ultimately replaced the original U.K. series “Pop Idol.” In the U.S., Mr. Cowell (along with FremantleMedia North America) is behind NBC’s successful summer franchise “America’s Got Talent.” Mr. Cowell’s involvement with “Talent” was a key reason NBC bought the series, and the network continues to use his name to hype the show.

Not everything Mr. Cowell and his Syco banner have attempted has worked. “American Inventor” failed to pop on ABC, though the network gave the show a second season—in part, no doubt, due to Mr. Cowell’s prestige. And the U.K. series “Grease Is the Word” fared no better than a similar show in the U.S.

Still, Mr. Cowell remains a seminal figure on the global unscripted TV scene.

Dream collaboration: Donald Trump.