Simon Cowell is leaving 'American Idol'.

The music mogul announced yesterday (11.01.10) he is quitting his judging position on 'American Idol' and has sealed a $160 million deal to launch a US version of his UK TV talent contest 'The X Factor', with Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole tipped to join him on the judging panel.

Announcing his plans at a TV Critics Association event in Pasadena, California, he said: "I'm thrilled and excited about this. 'X Factor' will launch in 2011, with me judging and producing the show."

The 50-year-old star - who revealed he'd been "offered a lot of money" to stay on 'American Idol' the most watched show in the US - is now looking for "the American Susan Boyle".

A TV insider said: "The American show will just take the British 'X Factor' formula and give it a few tweaks. We can expect it to be even glitzier than the British version. And the auditions should be a scream! Every singer in the US will want to be part of this show."

Paula Abdul, who quit as an 'American Idol' judge last year, is also rumoured to be joining the new 'X Factor'.

Louis Walsh - who stars on the British version of 'X Factor' alongside the music mogul and Cheryl- is convinced Simon's new venture will be a roaring success.

He said: "I am sure it will be massive. He knows TV better than anyone else and he has an instinct for what people want to watch. I am sure it will be a big hit."