Louis Walsh claims Gary Barlow has swiped his rightful place as head judge on The X Factor.
The music manager said he expected his seniority as a show veteran would make him chief panellist in Simon Cowell’s absence.
But he said that newcomer Gary instantly muscled in to take the prime role on the show, which returns on Saturday.
Louis said: “After eight years on the show and being the only surviving original judge, I was expecting to be head judge this year. But on day one Gary stole my head judge mug and sat in Simon’s old seat.
“There’s always next year I suppose,” Walsh added.
Take That star Gary – who has fitted in auditions between his group’s sell-out gigs this summer – said there could be no-one better qualified than the latest judging panel in advising the wannabes.
He, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz have joined Louis to replace Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Simon, who is busy with his US version of the show.
Gary said: “I suppose in terms of who they could have picked to be new judges alongside Louis, there’s no-one more valid than me, Kelly and Tulisa because we’re out there doing it right now. We’re selling tickets, selling records, and we’re out there doing what these guys want to be doing.”
The singer is relishing the chance to point contestants in the right direction: “I just want to be here to help people and I want them to be able to look up to me and be able to say to me, ‘tell me, do I do this or this?'”
The straight-talking star added: “If I’ve disliked a performance, I’ve told them that I didn’t really enjoy it very much. We have to be real with them.”