Season 2 starts a long "Idol" trend: record ratings. The show's return in January 2003 brings in 26.5 million viewers, giving Fox its biggest premiere numbers yet. Simon celebrated by wearing short-sleeved T-shirts. Fox gives Mr. Mean a three-year contract, plus room to think up more ways to torture up-and-coming hopefuls. He comes out with his autobiography, "I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But..." Fans start a Simon College University (with courses like "Beginning Sado-Masochism" and "The Art of the Striptease").
Check out Simon Cowell's "American Idol" fashions.