Simon Cowell on Returning to 'America's Got Talent' After Painful Bike Accident (Exclusive)

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Simon Cowell is excited to be seated behind the America's Got Talent judges table once again. The outspoken British TV personality is back in action after his devastating spinal injury and he's looking forward to what the new crop of competitors are bringing to Season 16.

"I think you know coming out of that year we had, you know, this is one of those shows where how the contestants are is almost a reflection of what people are going through, and you could think that people are going to be very despondent and very gloomy but actually it was the opposite," Cowell recently told ET Matt Cohen. "They come out with a lot more energy, strength and [happiness]."

Cowell was joined by fellow judges Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara, who also shared their amazement at the life-affirming positivity found among those trying out this year.

"They're happy to be out of the house," Klum said. "You can definitely see that everyone, in the last year, has been doing a lot of things at home trying to figure out new acts working on their acts."

For Cowell, returning to AGT is a milestone that shows just how far he's come after breaking his back in an electric bicycle accident last year, which required him to sit out nearly the entire second half of the previous season.

While he recovered with unexpected swiftness, Cowell said the injury could have easily been much more debilitating.

"If you saw the scan, I mean, I was like a millimeter away from just completely cutting my back in half. So I consider myself lucky," he explained. "It could've been a lot worse."

In actuality, being stuck in doors while recuperating may have actually been a blessing in disguise.

"Weirdly it was a good thing that it happened," Cowell shared. "I didn't get COVID because I wasn't able to travel and I probably would've done my fair share last year."

Additionally, physical therapy required him to get the kind of exercise he needed to get in great shape.

"That whole therapy thing you really, really have to exercise more," he shared. "So I feel better than I did a year ago."

When asked what he missed most about his fellow judges while he was sidelined on the show, Cowell said it was how much they make him laugh.

"Both Heidi and Sofia are actually very, very funny," Cowell said. "People always ask me, 'What are [they] like in real life?' And I always say that you're both very funny. You make me laugh."

When asked what they missed about Cowell, Klum said, "His honestly," while Vergara replied, "His beauty."

"I love you both so much," Cowell said with smile.

The new season of America's Got Talent kicks off June 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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