Simon Cowell talks Ellen DeGeneres with THR

EXCLUSIVE: Says 'I have huge respect for' exiting 'Idol' judge

In an exclusive statement to THR, Simon Cowell wished Ellen DeGeneres well in the wake of her sudden departure from "American Idol."

Cowell, who already announced his own exit from the series as he embarks on a Fox show of his own, "X Factor," told THR, "As I got to know Ellen, I grew to really, really like her. I have huge respect for her because she's always been in control of her own destiny."

Earlier this month, auditions began for the first season of "Idol" sans Cowell, who is concentrating on launching "Factor" in the U.S. after helping put it on the map in the U.K.

Cowell will have to assemble a whole other panel of judges for "Factor," which is expected to premiere on Fox next year. Speculation recently centered on Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who is serving as a guest judge for the U.K. version.

Cowell has said previously that he expects both "Factor" and "Idol" to coexist. They likely won't appear on air at the same time, with "Factor" expected to launch next fall and end before another season of "Idol" bows in January.