Yes he can evoke that sort of emotion - I think he believes he needs to be honest but doesn't seem to know how about saying what he feels with any diplomacy and sensitivity.
The difference is he is looking at the contestants as how they would venture in the cut throat 'dog eat dog world' of the music industry which he does have tremendouse experience of and not to be there to be kind to their egos. I suppose its a term of being cruel to be kind in the end.
On the X Factor over here in the U.K. (along with Sharon Osbourne as one of the judges), he made it quite clear that the contestants were not to become chummy and were to be very competitive against each other to ensure that they were hungry to win. He made it quite clear on the programme that he didn;t want them all to be hugging each other like American Idol but to be very fierce and competitive instead. This did make for very compulsive viewing I must say and you could see the fire in the eyes of the last 3 contestants as they battled it out.
Believe me, even over here in Britian, we find him quite ruthless but do understand where he is coming from.