Simon Cowell, the "American Idol" judge, doesn't seem troubled by his success.
I went to meet Simon Cowell in a house in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. It was one of those open floor plan homes with a fireplace, a pool, and a view that stretched for miles. When I walked in, I complimented him on the beautiful house.
"Oh, no, this is just a place I use for meetings," he said matter-of-factly.
I guess I should've known. It was a really lovely house, but it was pretty small by Cowell's standards. Let's just say he lives large. He divides his time between luxurious homes in Los Angeles and London, and has thriving businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
When I started doing research about Cowell for this interview, I had no idea how big a figure he'd become in the music industry. His perch on American Idol is probably his most visible job, but it actually accounts for just a fraction of Cowell's enormous income.
He reportedly earns about $30 million a year as a judge on "American Idol," but he earns even more than that on a similar show in England called the "X Factor," which he created. He also has a deal with Sony/BMG that is reportedly in the neighborhood of $100 million and he gets a cut of every release from every Idol artist worldwide. As he will happily tell you, that means he sells more records than Bruce Springsteen.
Simon Cowell may seem mean to some viewers of American Idol, but in person he is actually very friendly and disarmingly honest. He likes being a celebrity. He likes the notoriety, the attention, he likes the money and the power, and he's not ashamed of that one bit. Nonetheless, Cowell doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, and I find that refreshing for someone who is so successful. He can laugh at himself. I know it may not seem like much, but there are a lot of celebrities who can't even do that. (Watch Cowell discuss one couple's unusual offer
For this segment, I spent a weekend interviewing Cowell in Los Angeles. I also hitched a ride with him and Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest on a private plane to Las Vegas. Cowell and Seacrest spar a lot on "American Idol," but in real life they seem to be genuine friends, though they are intensely competitive with one another. Cowell told me that while he is happy for Ryan's success, he insists he is physically pained anytime he hears that Ryan has made a lucrative deal.
For me, the highlight of the weekend was racing Cowell at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cowell likes to race high-speed go carts, but this was the first time either of us had been in Indy-style cars. We both got up to 175 mph, but as Cowell will quickly tell you, he beat me by a second or two.
"I could have gone faster," he assured me when he took his helmet off after the final lap. We both laughed, but I know he wasn't kidding.
See you tonight.Editor's note: Anderson's "60 Minutes" interview with Simon Cowell will air on tonight's "360" at 10 p.m. ET.