Simon Cowell is reportedly plotting to lure Will.i.am away from The Voice to The X Factor in a bid to win Cheryl Cole back to the show and boost ratings.
According to the Mirror the mogul is hopeful that bringing the rapper to the judging panel would also persuade Cheryl to return – even though the move would probably cost the show around £2m.
And there is speculation that Simon himself could even return to the panel, as producers look to up the ratings after disappointing audience figures so far this year.
“We need to do something dramatic and this would be a coup,” a show insider told the paper. “It would give us the best judging line-up in X Factor history.”
Cheryl had previously said she would not return to the show after being dropped from X Factor USA after just four days of filming.
She made a comeback last week after joining Gary Barlow at the judges’ houses – but said she had done it as a favour to the Take That singer and not for Simon.
However she has since softened her stance on returning to the show, recently saying “Never say never” when asked if she might come back.
A source added, “Will would be the best person on the planet to persuade Cheryl that one last hurrah could be fun. Though we realise it would be expensive.”