Credit: Fox

Every year of The X Factor is exciting, but Season 3 might be the best one yet. Why? Well, because after two years of doing the whole Auditions-Bootcamp-Judges’ Houses-Live Shows-Winner rotation, they’re changing things up in a major way.

We found out back in August that the Bootcamp / Judges’ Houses round, which barely accounted for any of the episodes (despite being the big decision maker for who would get to the Live Shows), would be scrapped. And as for what would be replacing those phases of the show, it was a mystery. All we knew is that it would “involve all four mentors whittling down the field until each one has four contestants per category.”

Um, that sounds so gruesome, dontcha think? Well, we did, and it turns out we were right to do so. In a new interview with On Air With Ryan Seacrest, Simon spilled some beans about just what fans can expect after Auditions wrap soon.

“We’ve never done it before,” Simon says of the new ground, explaining “basically there are 40 contestants left [from auditions], 10 in each category.” Those categories were also changed from last year’s format back into the ones used in Season 1 and in The X Factor U.K.: Boys, Girls, Groups, and Over 25s.

So, how does the whittling work, to get things from 40 to 16? “[T]here are four chairs in each category … and as each person sings, if you’re good, you’ll take a seat. But you can be switched out if someone comes along and is better.”

Ooh, so cutthroat! Guess that means that no one should be too comfy in their X Factor chair, right Britney?

Julia Wayne is an Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!