updated 07/02/2012 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/02/2012 AT 3:40 PM ET
“She’s not on the show to be Britney Spears on a TV show,” the X Factor boss, 52, says of the “Till the World Ends” singer, 30. “She’s actually there to prove to the world there’s more to her, and she’s got the ability to do this job really well. She’s taken the role really seriously.”
Part of what Cowell likes most about the pop star – with whom he is “fascinated” – is her down-to-earth nature.
“It’s quite interesting because when someone has done what she’s done as she has with her career, and being such a public person, you kind of think she is going to be very confident, but in real life she’s shy,” he says. “There’s kind of a mystique about her which I think is what kind of attracted me to her in the place.”
As for fellow judge Demi Lovato, 19, Cowell calls her a “total brat,” explaining that she’s “completely fearless, irreverent.”
Adds Cowell, “A lot of people who watch our show are 16, 17, 18 and younger, so we had to have someone I thought on the panel that could reflect that younger audience, and I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t sure it was going to work.”
So far it’s working, Cowell says, and the new judges are opening his eyes and ears. “Because the two girls are on the panel,” he says, “I’m kind of seeing and hearing this in a totally different way.”