Simon Cowell has hinted at his view on Cheryl Cole’s departure from the X Factor, saying: “That’s showbusiness.”

The comment appeared to be in reference to Cheryl after Simon joked that he could replace Britain’s Got Talent presenter Dec with one of the show’s acts.

“Ant and Les has got a nice ring to it. As we know, that’s showbusiness,” he said after watching Les Gibson’s impression of the BGT presenter.

Dec replied: “He’s got it right in for the Geordies this week,” leading Simon to admit: “I’m in so much trouble tomorrow.”

It was confirmed earlier this week that Cheryl would not be a judge on this year’s UK X Factor after being sacked from the US version too.

Impressionist Les received the most public votes in the latest show to secure a place in the final.

His performance, which included mimicking Sir Alan Sugar, Gordon Ramsay and Ross Kemp – as well as Ant and Dec – earned strong praise from the judges.

The second spot in Saturday’s final went to 11-year-old autistic ballet dancer James Hobley, who won the judges’ vote over handbell ringers Gay and Alan Cooper.

Simon ended the programme by saying there would be “a special announcement” on Thursday night.

“You know how we like twists on the show,” he said.