Simon Cowell has admitted he was so panicked by the news that Zayn Malik wanted to leave One Direction, he was ‘about to jump off a cliff’.
The music mogul helps guide the career of the boyband, which he put together on The X Factor, and told James Corden during a guest appearance on The Late Late Show that he felt just as bad as some of their fans about Zayn quitting.
Asked by James where he was when he heard the news, he said: “I was about to jump off a cliff.
“I kind of knew this was coming to be honest. I’d had a few conversations with him, he wasn’t happy and I was trying to say to him, ‘No, I think you should stay around a bit longer’. But something inside him said he’d had enough.”
He added: “I saw him in person as well – but once someone has made their mind up they are going to go.
“At the same time I don’t want to push him too much because he’s 22 and I could see he was a bit stressed and needed some time off.”
Simon Cowell with One Direction (Ian West/PA)
Simon also said he felt the need to play the father figure to the other group members – Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan – to make sure they were OK.
He said: “Once the decision was made I dealt with it, then I made sure the guys were OK – because they were shocked as well. So I had to respect his decision.
“For the boys it was interesting because they were in the middle of these live shows at the time. Then I watched the show back and they were incredible… I have a feeling they are going to deliver the best record they have ever made.”
One Direction are working on their fifth album, which will be their first as a four-piece.