Nicole Scherzinger is reportedly quitting The X Factor – despite Simon Cowell’s return.

According to The Sun, the US singer wants to focus on her new album.

A friend was quoted as saying: “It breaks her heart, but Nicole is sad not to be able to go back to the show this year.

“She has agonised over this decision for months. She put her music career on hold last year but now she has to focus on her music.”

According to the newspaper, X Factor bosses wanted to keep the Pussycat Doll, 35, as a potential judge in case their bid to get Cheryl Cole to return fails.

Nicole won over fans when she joined the ITV show, helping to put One Direction together as a guest judge and winning with James Arthur in her first year.

But the last series floundered in the ratings against rival BBC One series Strictly Come Dancing.

Simon has announced he is returning to the show, won last by Sam Bailey, with the rest of the panel yet to be confirmed.

He has been wooing Cheryl, who was axed from the US X Factor, in an attempt to get her back to the show.

Rita Ora is said to be another favourite to join the judging panel.

The Sun quoted a friend of Simon as saying about Nicole: “She will always be part of The X Factor family.”