Hard to believe, but between their constant bickering, Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell are actually "friends" ... at least in Ryan's mind.

RYan Seacrest & Ellen DeGeneres
The "American Idol" host appeared told Ellen DeGeneres today, where he said "We have a very competitive spirit and attitude on the show but were friends. I would be there for him if he needed a loan or something ... because he's really hurting."

Despite being buds, Seacrest says he loves to approach the judges table ... solely because it makes Simon "really uncomfortable."