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Simon Cowell on the chances of a One Direction reunion and why he wishes he could still profit from their name

Simon Cowell has opened up about the possibility of One Direction reuniting, and explained why he wishes he had ownership of the band name.

The music mogul and talent show judge opened up about the boy band during a recent interview on Stephen Bartlett’s The Diary Of A CEO podcast, where he looked back at his time forming the band on the 2010 series of The X Factor.

All five members of the band – Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Liam Payne – auditioned for the show 14 years ago as solo artists and were ultimately put together as a group by Cowell during the series. They then went on to release five Number One albums and become one of the most successful boy bands of all time.

“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’ve got to have about 10 hit singles,” Cowell explained (via Variety), before going on to list his biggest regret with the band.

“One thing I regret is I should have kept the name … I should have owned the name,” he stated, explaining how this would have allowed him to use the band name to create some spinoff projects without necessarily needing the members’ permission.

“That’s the problem. 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. If you’re listening, I’ll buy it back from you.”

Cowell added: “If one of the band members, for whatever reason, say they don’t want to tour, it can stop the others [from] touring. So, if it was me who owned the name, it wouldn’t be a problem.

He also suggested that the move could have enabled him to organise a reunion tour regardless of each member’s involvement.

The band came to an end in 2016, shortly after announcing a hiatus. In the time since, each member has gone on to launch their respective careers as solo artists.

When asked by Bartlett if he thought the band would ever reunite, Cowell responded: “I doubt it.”

Later in the interview, the X Factor judge recalled more of the advice he gave to One Direction during the early days of their career. “It’s hard work, you are going to become well-known and you are going to lose a lot of your privacy,” he remembered telling the group. “If you want to be an accountant, you’re not going to have any of those issues. It just won’t be as much fun.”

The discussion around One Direction comes just days after Cowell confirmed that he was underway with trying to find the next big boy band, and holding auditions across the UK.

Simon Cowell in 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

“Every generation deserves a megastar boyband and I don’t think there has been one to have the success of One Direction in over 14 years,” he told Rolling Stone about the upcoming venture. “The industry tends to focus on solo artists – so it usually takes someone from outside to put a group together.”

“There’s always a high degree of risk, and I genuinely have no idea what’s going to happen! We might uncover an incredible group; we might not get there. What if no one shows up to auditions? That could be awkward. There is no guaranteed path to success – anything can happen, but that’s what’s exciting for me, and that’s why I’m doing this,” he added.

Auditions for the band will begin next month, and will be held across Newcastle, Dublin, Liverpool and London. The process will also be filmed with the hopes of releasing it as a “potential documentary series”.  The series will be produced alongside Box To Box Films, the outlet states.

Currently, details about the series remain scarce and there is yet to be a streaming service attached to the potential project.

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