L.A. Reid shocked The X Factor viewers last week when, just one hour before showtime, he announced his exit from the Fox reality show after the season.
"I have the utmost respect for Simon Cowell," Reid said Thursday. "He is the very best, and I have had the opportunity to learn so much from him. Working with him on X Factor has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm honored to have sat on the panel with such incredible talent."
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Asked by Access Hollywood who he'd like to see as his replacement on the series, the Epic Records chairman was quick to respond with someone from his Island label -- one whose tracks he has frequently used for season two contestant Tate Stevens: Jon Bon Jovi.
At a Monday press conference, Cowell addressed the suggestion with a typical non-answer: "Anything could happen, right?" he replied coyly.
Cowell also spoke out for the first time on Reid's impending exit, saying: "On a personal level, I'm going to miss him. On a business level, I'm also going to miss him."
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Reid was the first judge hired by Cowell for season one last year. He also was the only judge to survive a brutal X Factor bloodbath that saw fellow panelists Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones, fired prior to season two.
As the second season draws to a close, it remains unclear whether judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato will stay on for a third season, already greenlighted by Fox. But if there's one thing Cowell's a pro at, it's keeping people guessing.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci