Simon Cowell has broken his silence over Cheryl Cole’s axing from the US The X Factor, saying he “feels guilty” that it happened.
According to The Sun the mogul said, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” adding that his “hands were tied” by the TV executives who made the decision to drop the Girls Aloud singer from the panel.
A source at Fox, which is making the US version of the show said that Cowell was “gutted” by the decision.
“He loves Cheryl and did everything in his power to get her on US TV,” the insider said.
“But channel chiefs just weren’t happy. It was a necessary evil and he feels terribly guilty about it.
“He knew he’d get a slap in the face from her for all of this – and he certainly got one. But he doesn’t want any bad blood.”
Meanwhile speculation continues to surround Cheryl’s future on the UK edition of The X Factor, with The Sun reporting that she has demanded twice her usual £1m fee to return to the judging panel.
“It is humiliating for Cheryl,” a source told the paper. “She believes she should be handsomely compensated for it.”
Both Cowell and Cheryl’s manager Will.I.Am are believed to be negotiating for the singer to return to the show – although with auditions due to begin in Birmingham on Wednesday any deal would have to be done quickly.
Louis Walsh added that they would “welcome her with open arms”.
He told the Daily Mail, “The public would love her to do it. The public love her.
“She is brilliant on the show, she is great fun, she ticks every single box. I want her back, please come back Cheryl.”
“She will be star of the show, absolutely,” he added, “It would be the perfect result.”
Meanwhile the Mirror reports that Cheryl is being pursued by the BBC to join the judging panel of their X Factor rival The Voice.
The 27-year-old’s record company Universal is involved in the show – which has been a huge hit in the US – and executives there are said to be furious over Cheryl’s dismissal.
“Universal are heavily involved in recruiting judges for The Voice when it moves to the BBC and they are urging Cheryl to be the big star of that show,” an insider said.
“It would be a fresh start for her and would mean she could work with people who she trusts and who have her best interests at heart. It would also be a great way of sticking two fingers up at Simon Cowell.”
The Voice – in which panellists listen to the singers with their backs turned so as to focus entirely on their voice – is set to begin on BBC1 in 2012.