After months of shooting down rumors and hiring and firing folks, Simon Cowell appears to have nailed down his X Factor dream team for the American version of the UK hit.

Paula Abdul and hitmaker Antonio "L.A." Reid are locks for the judges' table, as was Brit popstar Cheryl Cole. That's right: was. Less than three weeks after announcing Cheryl as the show's third judge, it came out that former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger — who was initially slated to co-host with Steve Jones — would replace Chezza on the panel. Why the sudden shift? The rumor mill is a-churnin'!
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Photo: The X Factor's Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger, L.A Reid, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Cheryl Cole attend the 2011 Fox Upfronts in NYC on May 16, 2011
Perez Hilton reports that a combination of factors led to Cheryl's departure. First off, she was being uncooperative, refusing to get out and promote herself and the show stateside. An insider explained, "Instead of attending the Grammy Awards and the Coachella music festival, putting herself out there in America, she sat in her hotel room eating ­digestive biscuits. [...] She was ­offered elocution ­lessons and said, 'No.' She was offered a stylist and said, 'No.' [...] Cheryl seemed uncomfortable as if she didn't like judging the acts. And at the end of the day that isn't what the TV execs wanted." And no one was happy with her bold-colored auditions outfit.

The other issue is that while Simon has great chemistry with Paula and Cheryl individually, he doesn't have it with them as a twosome. Sheesh, Simon — we could have told you that! An inside source revealed, "He never thought through how Cheryl and Paula could work together when their whole performance is based on a giggly, playful relationship with him. Only one can sit next to him and do that. Having the two of them was never going to work."

After rumors surfaced that Fox had reoffered Cheryl Cole her US role — and that she had snubbed it — the network confirmed Nicole as Cheryl’s official replacement on June 6.

"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," Simon 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."

Whatever the true cause of her axing, Cheryl is out — from the US and UK versions — and Nicole is in. But not before Fox put together the following teaser. Whoops! Someone jumped the gun...