Tulisa Contostavlos said she loved sharing the X Factor judging panel with fellow ‘tough cookie’ former Spice Girl Mel B.

The singer, who joined fellow judges Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh at the launch of the new series on Thursday, said it was easier being on the panel second time around after winning the show last year with girl-group Little Mix.

She said: “I think people have been a little bit more respectful of my opinion, which has made it a lot easier for me because I feel that I’m on the panel to judge rather than being judged – but hey, it’s me, I’m always being judged. But it has been easier than last year”.

She posed for pictures with other members of the show in London before the four-month talent search returns to ITV1 on Saturday.

This year’s auditions featured guest judges including Geri Halliwell and Rita Ora, but Tulisa said Mel B was her favourite.

She said: “The person who reminds me a bit of myself, and in that sense I really get along with, is Mel B.

“She’s a real tough cookie just like me, I find it hard to be really cut-throat with people so when you have someone like Mel around it’s great because she just says it exactly how it is and doesn’t cut any corners”.