As the second stage of this year's X Factor gets underway with Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh returning to the panel with newbie Nicole Scherzinger, journalist Tom Bower has claimed that Simon Cowell wanted former judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue to return.
Bower, who wrote the controversial unofficial book about the media mogul, revealed to Heat magazine that Simon wanted to see Cheryl and Dannii back on the panel this year.
Commenting on Cheryl's brief return to the show to help out pal Gary Barlow for the judges house stage, Bower said: "Simon will have been very pleased", before adding:
"He always wanted her back. That was the whole problem. will.i.am prevented her, in his view. Simon thinks The X Factor is the natural place for her, and his ideal lineup this year probably would have been Cheryl and Dannii with Gary and Louis."
This year's judges (ITV Pictures)
Believing that the return of Dannii would have had a positive effect on the ratings, the journalist added:
"He would have very much liked Dannii there - he thinks that would have brought in a lot more viewers and it would have been a better show."
Revealing that there will be "no doubt" that Simon will return to the UK version of the show, Bower concluded:
"There's no doubt he thinks he'll come back for the final. The role that he'll play will become clearer in a few weeks."
What do you think?
Meet the judges!