As this year’s X Factor finalists prepare to take to the live stage for the first time, reports have emerged that half of them were encouraged by production staff to audition for the show.

According to The Sun, supermarket worker Jahmene Douglas and duo MK1 were among those who were apparently approached to take part.

Jahmene – who is one of the favourites to win the ITV1 series – is said to have been asked after posting videos of his singing on YouTube, while MK1’s members Charlotte Rundle and Simeon Dixon were told about auditions by their record company.

However producers have said that the judges were not aware of which acts had management deals or had been invited to perform and which did not when it came to selecting those who proceeded further in the competition.

A rule change this year has made those with management deals eligible to audition for the first time, although a spokeswoman for the show said that hopefuls all had to audition and make it through boot camp regardless of their musical background.

“All contestants have to apply and go through exactly the same process as every other act,” the spokeswoman said.

“All acts are then auditioned on their own merits and the judges, who are completely unaware of how the contestants came to audition, then decide who goes through to the live shows.”

The first live show will kick off on Saturday night at 8pm with the 12 finalists performing for the public vote for the first time this series.

A 13th ‘wild card’ act will also be added to the line-up, following public voting over the past week – with Adam Burridge, Amy Mottram, Times Red and Christopher Maloney all competing for the coveted final spot in the competition.