*A week after the bloodbath on his Fox series “The X Factor,” in which judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones were taken out, Simon Cowell on Tuesday addressed the controversy in an interview with confidant and former girlfriend, Extra’s Terri Seymour, reports Deadline.com.

He suggested that the pink slips came via a direct order from Fox. “It was fairly straight what they wanted, and we were told it had to happen straight away,” Cowell said. He praised Abdul for being “gracious” about her dismissal in their phone conversation. “She understands it’s business; it’s never personal… I would’ve liked to have kept her.”

As for Scherzinger, “I don’t think she’s mad. I think she’s disappointed,” Cowell said. He heaped praise on “L.A.” Reid, the only personality beside him to make it to Season 2. “There’s not a record executive out there who is as good as him for the job.”

Cowell dismissed suggestions that things didn’t quite work on the first season of “The X Factor,” evoking his now infamous pre-launch ratings prediction. “Most things did work. It’s only because I opened my big mouth and said we were going to get 20 million [viewers]. If I hadn’t said that, everybody would be saying the show as a new show was a huge success.”

Asked about potential new judges, Cowell called rumors that Beyoncé was being considered “complete nonsense.” He said that Madonna would be “great” but “expensive,” and that Katy Perry would be “fun” and “feisty.”

And what about Mariah Carey? “I would love her,” he admits, “but you can’t expect someone who’s just had two kids to make the kind of commitment you would need on this show.”