In what appeared to be a genius ploy for ratings before X Factor USA even premieres, Simon Cowell caused quite the controversy by unceremoniously sacking judge Cheryl Cole mere days into taping auditions. Nicole Scherzinger replaced her just a week later and the series chugged right along on schedule, resulting in a somewhat scorned Cheryl and a pretty juicy scandal surrounding the show.
But now, Simon is clearing the air once and for all, opening up about why the British songstress and former X Factor UK judge was let go. "After two cities, I offered [Cheryl] the job, which initially she accepted," Simon told RadarOnline (via US Weekly). "And then unfortunately when it went public, the negotiations fell apart, so I thought she would be more comfortable doing the UK show than the American show."
Translation for "more comfortable": Apparently, Cheryl had been experiencing bouts of homesickness. Of course, Cheryl declined the opportunity to return to the UK show (duh, she had just been dumped), but according to various sources, Simon feeling better chemistry with Scherzinger also contributed to Cheryl getting shipped back to the UK.
Whatever the case may be, Simon seems pretty apologetic for the way it all went down and openly admits he and Cheryl have yet to make up, saying "I am sorry for the way it worked out as we were incredibly close. She is still grumpy with me."
Well, hats off to Simon for X Factor Panel-gate. What better way to stir up buzz around yet another reality singing competition?