Soul singer Lionel Richie has promised revenge on music mogul SIMON COWELL - after the sharp-tongued Brit embarrassed him on live TV on Tuesday night (08APR03).

Richie appeared as a guest judge on top-rated talent search show AMERICAN IDOL alongside regulars Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

And when contestant RICKEY SMITH performed his rendition of Richie's hit song ENDLESS LOVE, the star joined Jackson and Abdul in heaping praise on the hopeful.

But Cowell stunned Richie and the audience when he used it as an opportunity to tell the former COMMODORES star, "I don't wanna be critical of you, but I never liked your performance."

A still-stunned Richie admits, "He took me right off of my mark. I was there to give some constructive criticism and all of a sudden he attacked me.

"I looked at Paula and I said, 'Are we on the air?' First of all, I didn't know should I make this the JERRY SPRINGER SHOW and get up and attack him or should I just sit there quietly? Of course, they said, 'Next, we'd like to move on.' Move on? The show was over." But Richie says he has sweet revenge in store.

He adds, "Now I know how Simon plays I need to come back (on the show) and say to Simon the things I want to get off my chest."