Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole
Simon Cowell says he tried to keep Cheryl Cole on both versions of The X Factor and that he takes "full responsibility" for the drama surrounding her exits from the shows.
Denying reports that Cole was axed because of her thick Newcastle, England, accent, and that she didn't jibe with Paula Abdul on the judges' panel, Cowell said he thought Cole would be happier back home in England on the original X Factor.
The X Factor: Cheryl Cole out, Nicole Scherzinger in
"She was good on the American show. I personally thought she was missing her family and friends. She just looked a little bit, I wouldn't say uncomfortable, but just not as happy as I've seen her on previous shows," Cowell told The Associated Press. "I hate seeing her hurt. She's one of — I hope — she's one of my closest friends, and this was a decision we made which we thought would be beneficial to her, funny enough. Not many people will believe that, but that's the truth."
Fox confirmed Monday that Cole was leaving the upcoming talent series and will be replaced by Nicole Scherzinger, who will shift from co-host to judge, alongside Cowell, Abdul and L.A. Reid. Steve Jones will host solo.
Cole had already taped two audition shows before she was dropped last week and will be seen in some footage, Cowell said.
Is Nicole Scherzinger replacing Cheryl Cole as an X Factor judge?
He said he offered Cole a raise to leave the U.S. version and return to the U.K. one, which she was interested in. "It was even to the point she'd asked if she could have my dressing room," Cowell said.
Negotiations stalled when news of her U.S. exit leaked and Cole's camp went silent, Cowell said. With production approaching (the show began last week), the U.K. judges' panel had to be set without Cole. After that, Cowell said he and Fox producers believed it would be "fair" to offer Cole the chance to return to the U.S. version, which she could've rejected without breaching her contract or losing any pay.
Cowell has been in touch with Cole, texting her that he takes "full responsibility," but she's only texted him back once.
Report: Cheryl Cole offered chance to return to U.S. X Factor
"She told me she wasn't happy but that she also accepted it was a business decision and she wished the show well. Typically, in Cheryl form, she was disappointed but charming at the same time," Cowell said. "I always, always would hold the door open to work with her again."
After all, who knows what the next phase of The X Factor musical chairs could bring?
"I'm going to ax me," Cowell quipped.