It's been 20 months since Simon Cowell appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour to announce that he was departing "American Idol" and that a FOX version of "The X Factor" would premiere in the fall of 2011.
 
"The X Factor" will finally launch on Wednesday (September 21) night on FOX and for many, the show's format and its differences from "Idol" remain a bit of a mystery. 
 
Fortunately for FOX, then, the x-factor in this new singing competition's success is likely to be Simon Cowell himself. And Cowell, of course, is as well-known a quantity as there is on television.
 
I sat down last week with Cowell, who serves as judge/mentor/producer/creator on "The X Factor," to talk about transplanting his British smash to American soil, a conversation that touched on Paula Abdul, Justin Bieber and why "X Factor" will be able to dodge the rut that recent "Idol" winners have fallen into.