Simon Cowell was convinced he had been targeted by pranksters when former supermodel Tyra Banks reached out about becoming the new host of America’s Got Talent.
The runway beauty-turned-TV personality was recently announced as the replacement for original presenter Nick Cannon after his abrupt exit from the talent show in February (17), following a dispute with the series’ network bosses.
Music and reality TV mogul Simon, who co-created America’s Got Talent, admits he knew little about Cannon’s departure until it was too late.
“I didn’t know much about (Cannon’s exit) – maybe I should have known more about it…,” he mused to Entertainment Tonight. “Anyway, it happened. I spoke to him, I thought he was going to come back but he wasn’t – then he was, wasn’t – and then in the end, we decided to start filming without him.”
The show didn’t go without a host for long, and Simon couldn’t believe it when he heard Tyra wanted to discuss the position.
“After one day, we get a phone call – Tyra Banks wants to meet,” he recalled. “I thought I was being (pranked) to be honest with you!”
Nick, who fronted the series from 2009 to 2016, publicly congratulated the America’s Next Top Model star on her new gig, and he has since made it clear he holds no grudges against Simon, either.
The 57-year-old Brit said, “He was the first to send me a bottle of Champagne on the first day (of America’s Got Talent’s new season)… which interestingly, he didn’t send to the others (fellow judges).”
Simon is joined by former Spice Girls star Melanie Brown, retired supermodel Heidi Klum, and media personality Howie Mandel on the panel for season 12, and things are looking promising with Tyra as the new host.
“The hardest thing is when you’re trying to replace someone who has been really good, and you don’t want someone who’s going to be the same kind of personality,” he explained. “I mean, look, she’s funny, she gets it. From what I’ve seen so far, I think she is having a good time.”
Tyra made her debut on America’s Got Talent as production for season 12 got underway in California on Monday (27Mar17).
It’s not her only big hosting job – she will also return to front her America’s Next Top Model series for its 24th season.
Banks hosted the popular program for 22 seasons before singer Rita Ora took over for season 23. Tyra returned to the show for the finale, which aired in early March (17).