Simon Cowell: I Taunt Paula Abdul

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One of Simon Cowell's habits strikes people as rude, even for him: While American Idol hopefuls are singing their lungs out, he's often seen idly chatting with Paula Abdul.

"I'm taunting Paula throughout the performance," Cowell explains on Monday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "I'm saying to her, 'Try to say something interesting, try not to use the words mountain and lakes in your critiques because it's always: You'll climb mountains, you'll swim lakes, whatever.' "

So how can he judge the contestants if he's so busy bugging Abdul? "I'll tell you a secret," he says. "I watch the dress run so I actually hear much, much easier what they really do sound like."

As for his Idol picks, he goes with the favorites Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle, but says, "I wouldn't write off Blake Lewis or LaKisha Jones.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.