The battle lines are already being drawn between returning X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole over the future of fellow panellist Louis Walsh.
It was revealed yesterday that Cheryl, 30, and show boss Simon, 54, will revive their on-screen partnership for the ITV talent show after a four-year break. But the pair are reportedly at war over who will join them on the judging panel when the show makes its return later this year.
Cheryl told The Sun that she would like another woman to join her on the panel, while Simon said he would prefer to keep the show veteran, saying: “I want to keep Louis.”
The Girls Aloud star, who was dumped from a US version of the show before it was even broadcast, revealed that Simon had given her the final say on who to recruit, part of a reported £1.5 million deal to lure her back.
The singer told the newspaper: “There are people I’d love to join the panel. Definitely a strong woman. I’m kind of hoping I don’t have to deal with three guys because otherwise I’ll have no hair – I’ll be pulling it out all the time.”
Simon said the two of them would discuss who to bring in, saying: “When Cheryl came back we decided we’d agree together. I’m not going to put someone beside her who she hates.”
A spokesman for Louis told The Sun: “ITV and Simon have given assurances he will be back.”
Simon and Cheryl quit The X Factor after the 2010 series to launch a new version across the Atlantic, but she was dropped within weeks, during the audition stages, amid claims that Americans could not understand her Newcastle accent, and the pair fell out.
Her return to the UK show was announced by Simon with a message posted online, which said: “It’s official. Cheryl is back. Most importantly she is a brilliant judge of talent.”
Cheryl told The Sun Simon had begged her to return to the show for years, joking: “It’s not nice to see a grown man cry.”
She said the pair have a ‘great relationship’ and that she doesn’t hold any grudges, and that their return to the show is a ‘step forward’.
Simon admitted he got it wrong by firing Cheryl in 2011 and said it took ‘2,000 calls’ to persuade her to forgive him and come back.
He said: “Of course I was wrong and I don’t mind admitting it. If I could turn the clock back I’d do it differently, but I can’t.”
Simon said he believes the pair can pick up where they left off as he considers her a friend, saying: “I trust her and she is loyal.”