Simon Cowell promises that this year’s X Factor will be bigger and better than ever. Here, he lifts the lid on what people can expect…

Why did you make the changes to the auditions?
“It was time to change things, make it different, and make it more challenging. I have always believed in change. The audience brings something completely new to the auditions; it’s tougher but it brings new dimensions to the performances. We are looking for a winner who has the whole package – vocally, has charisma and stage presence. Holding auditions in front of the live audiences is testing but also allows certain people and real talent to shine from day one and that’s why we’ve done the show this way round. The acts really have to perform from the moment they step out.”

Are you pleased with the new audition format for The X Factor – does the show feel bigger?
“The show gets bigger and bigger every year, I believe in changing and constantly raising the bar – and with the change in the audition process it feels bigger right from the outset. Thousands of people have watched parts of auditions and have been part of it. If I didn’t believe the show would be bigger and find someone better every year, I wouldn’t do the show.”

Have you had many memorable auditions this year and if so, can you tell us about them?
“There have been some outstanding auditions this year and some totally bizarre ones. There are a few which spring to mind but I don’t want to go into detail. A lot can change as the series goes on and acts develop differently. We have had great performances from acts in each category so it’s going to be a great competition and I think everyone will be surprised by some of the auditions who really stand out.”

What are you looking for on this year’s show?
“I hope that over the past few years, we’ve encouraged a different type of contestant. I would love to find a great male singer this year, the girls have kind of dominated it and it’s time for the boys to fight back this year. I would love to find someone different – I don’t want someone who sounds like someone else. I want to find someone who is going to represent this country all over the world like Leona Lewis has done. And when you hear their record on the radio, you want to say ‘This show helped to launch your career’. That’s the best feeling and that’s what I want to do again.”

Are you pleased all the same judges are back? What can we expect from you all this year?
“I’m really pleased we are all back on the panel this year, we have a great dynamic and all get on well – however each of us is very competitive and when it comes to the show we want to win – simple as that.”

What’s your role on the judging panel?
“To be the voice of reason.”

Which category would you like to mentor this year and why?
“The category that’s going to win.”

How do you know when you’ve found the ‘one’?
“I think most of the time you just know – when you have a really special artist walk on stage it’s immediate. I’m very instinctive and you can feel it, even the audience reaction, the atmosphere just changes – someone brilliant just walks on stage and you know they’ve ‘got it’.

How would you sum up this year’s show?
“It’s bigger, better, faster and tougher. I think every year we strive to find talent that’s better and better. I definitely believe there’s still a lot of talent in this country and that’s why we do the show. Winning this show can change someone’s life forever – simple as that. One minute you’re singing in your bedroom, suddenly you can be a star all over the world. That’s
what can happen and that’s what this show is about.”

Are you pleased with Alexandra’s progress for her new album?
“Alexandra is doing fantastically, she’s developing as an artist and the music is totally personal to her. Musically the album reflects her personality, she’s been working with some of the world’s top producers is determined and enjoying every moment of it. Last year during the duet with Beyonce, she really showed she had the confidence to hold the stage alongside a global star and she really does – she is a great singer.”

Do we have more surprises to come with the live shows?
“There will be a few twists and turns I’m sure, yes.”

The sixth series of The X Factor launches on Saturday August 22 at 7pm on ITV1