Simon Cowell says 'only regret' about One Direction is not owning their name

Simon Cowell's biggest "regret" surrounding pop sensation One Direction isn't sitting well with the former band's fans.

The "X Factor" personality and music mogul discussed the band's formation during his time on the show on Stephen Bartlett’s “The Diary of a CEO” podcast episode released Monday.

“When I was talking to One Direction, I remember saying to them, 'Our goal is for you to have enough hits that if you ever reform, that you can do stadium tours. That means you got to have about 10 hit singles,'" he recalled.

Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson were formed as a boy band in 2010 and signed to Cowell's music label. Malik left One Direction in 2015 to pursue a solo career and the remaining members disbanded in 2016.

When asked if he thinks they would ever have a reunion, Cowell said, "I doubt it."

Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Harry Styles formed One Direction.
Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Harry Styles formed One Direction.

"One thing I regret is I should have kept the name … I should have owned the name," he added. "That’s the problem. (I) could have made an animation or whatever, but when you give an artist the name, it’s not yours — and that’s my only regret."

The five band members own the rights to the name One Direction, meaning any licensing for projects related to the band has to be approved by them.

Cowell jokingly added: "If you’re listening, I’ll buy it back from you."

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Directioners, the band's fandom, was quick to chastise Cowell for his remarks.

"He's genuinely an evil person lol," one person wrote on X. Another added: "Oh thank god at least they own the name, he took more than enough from them."

One fan suggested the comments should have been kept private. "That’s the sort of thing that you say over a beer in confidence that gets leaked to the press… not something you say in an interview, casually admitting you’re exploitive and slimy," the fan wrote.

Cowell's remarks about One Direction come as he is preparing to hold a talent search for a potential documentary in the hunt for a new boy band.

"I don’t think (there has been) a band as good as One Direction since One Direction," he said on the podcast Monday. "The only way I know to put a band together is somebody has to audition them. And so, we just thought, 'If I don’t do it this year I’m going to really regret it, so let’s just do it.' And we’re going to document the whole process."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Simon Cowell says he regrets not owning One Direction name