I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that Simon Cowell rescued television and the gutter tabloids from the doldrums. He has been rewarded well with riches galore and, for a long long time, a media that worshipped at his feet.
X Factor revived weekend family entertainment and the tabloids jumped on the bandwagon, buying in to the whole drama of bitchy judges, flaky contestants and spectacular fall-outs. Mr Cowell's ego soared along with the ratings and the advertising revenue. Contestants became instant celebrities and the judges basked in the public adulation, their new careers giving them kudos, makeovers and not a little wealth.
Britain's Got Talent, Cowell's other vehicle discovered Susan Boyle and in America his ability to deliver expertly timed and well-rehearsed put-downs made him a star on American Idol. Despite the fact he owns a record company, it has never been about the music, but the televised show itself and one thing Cowell understood was that to retain success the production values had to be high. He could never be accused of stinting on investment in the shows and, X Factor in particular, benefited from the glossy, extravagant productions.
Today, Simon Cowell, must be a disappointed man. X Factor USA has not done the expected business and here in the UK the latest series has been a disappointment, compared to previous years. Even the tabloids have reduced coverage, with the public more and more bored with the manufactured drama surrounding each and every series.
Part of the problem has been the lack of real credible winners to go on and be big International successes. Leona Lewis has been the most successful X Factor winner, but her album sales have declined. It has been left to One Direction, who didn't win the show, to follow in her footsteps and it has to be said they have been brilliantly managed, with success both sides of the Atlantic. However how much influence Cowell has had over their subsequent careers is debatable.
The public's fascination with Cowell was his own self-confidence, his belief that he was always right, but the spat with Cheryl Cole, proved him vulnerable and deceitful. It allowed the public too much insight into the machinations that go on behind the scenes and they didn't like it that Cheryl, the nation's sweetheart, had her heart broken.
The biography by Tom Bower didn't enhance the Cowell reputation either and his recent appearance on the Jay Leno show, where his puffy face suggested a cosmetic filler overload, or a tendency to eat all the pies, caused concern for his well-being. Is the well-oiled PR machine falling apart, or worse, is the man himself finding the pressure too much?
It has been reported that the next series of X Factor UK - the tenth - will be the last. It will be interesting to see if Simon Cowell retains his enthusiasm to go on and produce more lavish light entertainment vehicles in the future, or will he fade in our memories, just like most of the contestants he has paraded before us over the past few years?