In the promo spot for the American debut of Simon Cowell's 'X Factor,' the crabby, critical former 'American Idol' judge is seated in familiar digs: Behind the judge's table, flanked by nice-as-pie co-judges.

A pigtailed girl in a blue dress walks in and sings a lackluster version of 'Tomorrow' from 'Annie.' Cute but … Judge Paula Abdul celebrates the girl's, um, spirit, while Cowell uncharacteristically says, "I love your spirit."

Whoa, what happened to Cowell, who relished the "bad guy" role, playing bad cop to Abdul and Randy Jackson's "good cop" attitude on 'Idol?' Cowell reasons, "This is a different decade. It's not about me anymore. It's about them." He is wearing a pink polo among a battery of clips of him saying "I love you" and telling hopefuls he wants their dreams to come true. He also says he cares about the environment, too.

Clearly, we are in for a kinder, gentler Simon Cowell on 'X Factor.'

Pft! Not a chance!

As Cowell witnesses a sea of train wrecks reminiscent of his 'Idol' days, the curmudgeon wakes up in a cold sweat in his swank bed, exclaiming, "What a horrible nightmare!" We are then treated to shots of the real Cowell, wearing shades, driving fast wheels. It's the Simon Cowell we know and love ... For his ability to hate.

Comments like "That was horrific," "absolute total rubbish" and "you are talented but you are deluded" spew out of his mouth in the ensuing seconds of the clip. Forget the nurturing nature of Season 10 version of 'Idol' or the new kid on the block 'The Voice.'
The drama returns Sept. 21.

Watch 'The X Factor' Promo Clip