The Beatles, Simon Cowell

ADC/Keystone/ZUMA Press; Michael Becker / FOX

Some people just can't take a joke. Others just can't tell them. Simon Cowell falls into the latter category.

While the American Idol judge apparently can't spare a moment to officially comment on Ellen DeGeneres' replacement of Paula Abdul (unlike everyone else involved), he did take time to go on record today to clarify a joke he made about the Beatles on CBS' Early Show Wednesday morning. Which, as the most cursory of Google searches will tell you, didn't exactly translate well.

Cowell was on the show to talk about Susan Boyle's recording future but got slightly off-course when his interviewer, his Britain's Got Talent cojudge Amanda Holden, asked the critical Brit, "If the Beatles came on Britain's Got Talent or American Idol, do you think you would have put them through to boot camp?"

Unfortunately, Cowell never met a piece of bait he didn't lunge for.

"I think we would have said, 'We'll take those three but we'll probably lose the drummer.' Ringo, I'm afraid it's bad news."

Cut ahead one news cycle and the British media have gone into hysterics over the reality star's gall to slam such a music institution.

"Regarding my comments on the Beatles, it was a joke," Cowell said in a statement released by his rep. "I have always said they were the group I have always wished I had signed."

That settles that then. As for that other pesky rumor that has been floating around for quite some time, but which Cowell himself has apparently only recently caught wind of…

"Also, to set the record straight it was recently reported that I turned down the Spice Girls. In fact, I offered the girls a recording contract before they were signed and actually offered to double the offer they had on the table."

And while Cowell has yet to talk Ellen (the interview aired just hours before word broke) he did send a little begrudging sugar Paula's way.

"I hate saying this, but Paula's a star. When she came on the show, she was a star, is a star, will always be a star.

"And then you've got to remember that, with all the people lining up, they want to be a star on American Idol. You've got to sort of try to concentrate on them and not think about yourself, which is difficult."


Get the latest on the American Idol shakeup.

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