On Thursday (Feb. 18, 2010) Simon Cowell held a wide-ranging conference call re. his future and several facets of American Idol. Following is Part III of a three-part series of that conference call:

Q: I’m curious what you think two Boston round contestants – Ashley Rodriguez and Siobhan Magnus – need to do to stay in the running on the show.

Cowell: “Ithink you have to be original. I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well and suddenly came into the front when he competed was that he managed to find interesting versions of well-known songs and did them in his style. I remember the first time he performed a Lionel Richie song, Hello, and turned it into a rock song. Or he found the Chris Cornell version of Billie Jean. He was smart. I would say the same thing to these two contestants: don’t always do the obvious; try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you. “

Cowell: “And suck up to me. That always helps.”

Q: What we’ve seen so far has been a lot of editing and stuff, but with the live show coming up I was just wondering if you’re going to try to maybe take a driving instructor role this year and sort of just take the wheel when needed or if you’re going to stay as visible as you have been.

Cowell: “Look, it’s always frustrating, I suppose, on an edited show because it’s an edited show. That’s why I prefer doing live TV. What I always do when I do these live shows is not go in there with any sort of preconceived idea of what it’s going to be like or what people are going to be like. Be in the moment and always do what I’ve done in my career, which is to hopefully make the right decisions. If that means disagreeing with people, I don’t have a problem with that; I never have. You are there to be honest, truthful and hopefully give constructive advice. Most importantly, say what you think people at home are thinking.”

Q: Even when we hear you sort of leaving, you’re still going to stay as visible as you have been and not turn the reins over?

Cowell: “That would be impossible. No, I’ll keep to my seat. I’ll hopefully be the last one to speak. It’s always easier to be the last one rather than the first one. I want to go out on a high. I mean, I’ve said this over and over again, that it’s my last season and I want it to be successful. I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.”

Q: Simon, there has been tremendous speculation about who could possibly replace you on American Idol. My question is has anybody contacted you personally about wanting the job? And, if you could choose, if you had your pick, who would be your dream replacement?

Cowell: ‘Well, you’re never going to pick anyone as good as you, are you?”

Answer: Of course not.

Cowell: “So that’s why I don’t think anybody really asks me that question. I mean, I can give general advice, as I said before on this conference call. I think the important thing is what I said earlier on – and you’ve seen this on a lot of shows, you cover a lot of stuff – you see people put in a role to play a certain role, which has become quite tiresome, when people always describe that person as the mean judge or whatever it is. You just have to find somebody who can actually make a difference to the contestants, who’s not afraid to speak their mind, who’s prepared to be honest and occasionally blunt, but not to be gratuitously rude. I’m really getting tired of all of that now. But look, there’ll be a lot of people, as you know, who want the job. I think ironically, it’s going to help next season because I think there’s going to be a lot of interest as to who replaces me.”

Q: Who could do it, in your mind?

Cowell: “Who could do it in my mind? If I really knew the answer to that question I wouldn’t tell you.”

Q: Has anybody contacted you about wanting the job? I’m sure you’re getting a lot of calls.

Cowell: “No, I haven’t actually. I’ve had a couple of calls, but they were quite boring people and never stood a chance. No, they’ll be contacting FOX, I think, if they really want this job. Or do what Howard’s been doing – just basically talking about it on his show I think is brilliant.”

Q: So I know you say that you don’t want to say who would like to replace you, but I have one. I’m on a mission. I want to see how you feel about this one. Noel Gallagher from Oasis. He’s crabby.

Cowell: “Noel Gallagher. Do you think people would understand him?”

Answer: If you subtitled him.

Cowell: “If you subtitled him. I know Noel quite well and I like him. He’s very funny and he is a brilliant songwriter. It’s a possibility. Look, the good news for them is there is no shortage of candidates. There are a lot of people. The hardest thing, actually, about finding a replacement is that when you hear people’s names like Madonna, it will never happen because you have to give a massive, massive time commitment. That’s always been the problem when you’re trying to find people to do these shows. You have to find people who are prepared to give up that much time.”

Q: Don’t you feel it has to be a British person? It seems like you set the trend that it has to be a British person, like a Piers Morgan or someone like that.

Cowell: “Again, Piers works for me and does a great job on America’s Got Talent. This person specifically has to have a lot of experience in the music business. It is the most important thing. That’s what I think will happen. I think they’ll find somebody who has that kind of experience, whether it’s a manager, artist or … somebody like that, I’m sure.”

Answer: We’ll miss you.

Cowell: “I’ll still be around, but thank you very much. I really do appreciate that.”

Moderator: Thank you. Simon, do you have any closing remarks?

Cowell: “It was very short, but thank you, everybody. There were good questions. I hope it cleared up a lot of the rumors. We’ll do this again soon.”