Watch out, Simon! Ellen DeGeneres is out to take over American Idol!

The comic-turned-talk-show host, who’s taking over Paula Abdul‘s seat on AI, sees herself as "the new sheriff in town," says an insider.

"What worked for Paula isn’t going to work for Ellen," continued the insider. "She doesn’t want the seat in the middle – Ellen wants to be the last judge to offer an opinion so her words will be the final thing ‘Idol’ fans hear on contestants.

"She’s always felt Simon was too nasty, and she’s planning on making Idol a kinder, gentler show."

Ellen’s request to deliver the final opinion is not going to go over well with Simon – and fans can expect some fireworks when Season 9 of the top-rated FOX talent show begins in January, says the insider.

The 51-year-old comedian – who has signed a five-year deal with Idol – recently stated: "When Simon is rude and mean, I’ll tell him he’s rude and mean, just like I tell him on my show that he’s rude and mean."

Ellen wants the show to be more "contestant-friendly," and unlike Paula, Ellen is "not afraid to get in Simon’s face," says a source close to the production.

"She’s going to fight Simon to make sure the contestants are given positive reinforcement," continued the source.

"Ellen feels that he is her equal rather than her boss, and she says she won’t be bullied or swayed by him."

What Simon says is ANOTHER STORY…

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