Credit: Splash News

X Factor judge Simon Cowell’s trademark charm is due in part  to his closet of starched white button downs — but mostly owed to the strong-willed women surrounding him at the judges’ table. In a group interview with reporters after The X Factor live results show on November 15, 2012, Simon discussed the two leading ladies in his life: fellow judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, having just clashed with both of them onstage. On Wednesday, Britney told Simon off for calling Beatrice Miller boring, and on Thursday, Simon awkwardly pressured Demi into choosing who to send home.

We all enjoyed feisty Britney.
Yeah, I don’t know where that came from.

Were you surprised?
Yeah. It’s like, you know, having a dog that normally licks you and decides to bite you out of nowhere one week. I prefer the licking.

What did you say to her afterwards?
She just made me laugh, because she was so straight-faced about it afterwards, but bring it on. She’s more comfortable, yeah.

Credit: Splash News

What is Britney doing right, since she has all her contestants still here?
Well, she’s not doing it that right. She’s got one act doing well. She’s going to lose a couple in the next few weeks, trust me. It’s quite clear with Carly that she’s going to be there all the way through to the end — she was incredible [November 15].

Your back and forth with Mario [on November 15]. Why did you want Demi to go first?
Because I knew that I was going to keep Paige which meant she wouldn’t have to make a decision. And I thought, bearing in mind they’re both your artists, I wanted to see which one you’re going to destroy their career.

But if you’d let it go to deadlock, America would have made the choice.
No, no. I had to go with who I thought was right and Paige was better. But it was fun to see her squirming during that moment. Because she thought she was going to get out of it and I thought, “You’re not.”

You’re not the first judge tonight who wanted to knock her down a peg. What is it about knocking Demi?
Listen, you give as good as you get with her. And trust me, I’m getting it in my ear from her the whole time.    

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