Simon Cowell Apologizes for Awkward One Direction “Who Misses Zayn?” Joke

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell apologized for making a joke about Zayn Malik when One Direction presented him with an award on Monday, Nov. 2. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Foot in mouth much, Simon? Simon Cowell isn’t usually one for public apologies, but the X Factor judge admitted that he had wronged One Direction fans at last week’s Music Industry Trust Awards during a radio interview on Friday, Nov. 6.

The usually stoic Cowell, 56, admitted that a joke he’d made at the awards on Monday, Nov. 2, didn’t quite land.

“I just kind of thought when I was standing on stage with them, that they were back to being five, and I saw myself [being a part of] One Direction for a moment,” he explained to New York’s Fresh 102.7. (Malik left the group this past March.)

One Direction

“That’s when I made that quip, ‘Who needs Zayn?’ which of course backfired hugely,” he continued. “So I apologize to any Zayn fans out there — it was meant as a joke.”

The remaining four members of One Direction — Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson — had been onstage to present a Music Industry Trust Award to Cowell when the British TV personality made his comment.

The boy band performed at the last stop of their On the Road tour late last month, in Sheffield, England, on Saturday, Oct. 31, and shared emotional hugs onstage.

“Safe to say last night was incredible,” Horan wrote on Twitter the next day. “Gonna miss doing shows for a while, it’s the bet part of what we do thats why it was emotional. Thank you anyone who has come to watch us live over the last few years, it’s incredible to be able to play our music live for you.” 

The band is going on a temporary hiatus through next year.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!