There seems to be universal recognition that Simon Cowell, the ‘mean’ judge on the hugely successful televised amateur singing competitions American Idol and X Factor, is a quintessential Thinker: Prioritizing truth over tact, he calls it exactly as he sees it, unconcerned with the feelings of hurt and humiliation his derogatory comments provoke in the less talented contestants. His interaction with his fellow judges (who are generally Feelers) is characterized by the same bluntness. Thinking is clearly his strongest preference and as such the discussion online boils down to which of the four dominant Thinking types he is (ESTJ, ENTJ, ISTP, INTP).
Cowell is blunt first and foremost simply because he values truth over tact: “I can’t bear political correctness. I absolutely loathe it.” This sentiment is the hallmark of the Introverted Thinker for whom integrity is everything. Introverted Thinkers do not naturally parse their words for public consumption.
When pressed regarding whether the harshness of his comments is really necessary, Cowell puts forth the rationale that it is better for a talentless contestant to hear the harsh truth so that he (the contestant) can turn his attention to more productive uses of his time. Such a strategic cruel-to-be-kind consideration draws upon Extroverted Thinking; compare with ESTJs Judge Judy and Dr. Phil who also preach and practice tough love.
However, we find that the beneficial effect of his scathing criticism on the fate of the contestant is more of a rationalization for Cowell to whom unfiltered commentary seems to be an end in itself. Although not an obvious introvert, his energy is calmly self-contained (as opposed to the exploring restlessness of the ESTP or the bossy impatience of the ESTJ), and he seeks not to make an impression on the contestant (or on his fellow judges); he seeks only to express the impression the contestant has made on him. This lack of concern for the audience reaction is a feature of introverted judgment. As such we believe Cowell’s Thinking to be introverted, making him an IXTP.
Finally, there is the question of whether Cowell is an ISTP or an INTP. Cowell is the macho man par excellence and an entrepreneur who deals in a no-nonsense manner with tangible realities and successfully exploits opportunities in the present without losing himself in egghead intellectualizing, and so we call S without further ado.
One last remark: The salient criticism of Cowell is his lack of diplomacy. This flaw is the sign of repressed Extroverted Feeling, which yields another point for ISTP (the type whose MBTI prayer is: “Lord, help me to consider other people’s feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.”) ESTJs are also blunt, but ESTJs tend to have a controlling purpose to their criticism, and it is this domination that gets people’s backs up rather than the unnecessary tactlessness of their observations as in the ISTP’s case. Compare with Dr. Phil (ESTJ) who is also blunt but who is not criticized for pointless, uncalled-for negativity the way Cowell is so much as for steamrolling his clients. Of course, it is Cowell’s job to be the mean judge, but clearly he has the requisite predisposition, whereas he doesn’t seem to take an interest in browbeating anyone.