Judge also takes shot at 'The Voice,' asking, 'How many artists have they discovered?'
By John Mitchell
<P>Simon Cowell is finally opening up about the cast shakeups on "The X Factor" as well as about rumors that two <i>very</i> famous divas are in talks to join Fox's reality singing competition. </p><div class="player-placeholder right" id="vid:698604.id:1672066" width="240" height="211"></div><p> Late last month, it was announced that judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones had been <a href="/news/articles/1678191/paula-abdul-exits-x-factor.jhtml">fired from "X Factor"</a> and would be replaced in its second season. The announcement came as a shock to fans, but Cowell tells <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/simon-cowell-x-factor-firings-voice-287806" target="_blank">"Extra"</a> in an interview airing Wednesday (February 8) that the decision was a long time coming and was ultimately made "at the beginning of the year — and we were told it had to happen straight away." While her dismissal came as a surprise, Cowell says Abdul "was very gracious" about it. "She understands it's business," Cowell said of his real-life friend. "It's never personal." Scherzinger, according to Cowell, was "disappointed" with the producers' decision to replace her. But the former Pussycat Doll insisted in a new <a href="http://www.accesshollywood.com/nicole-scherzinger-talks-x-factor-departure-i-have-no-regrets_article_60184" target="_blank">"Access Hollywood"</a> interview that she "had a wonderful experience on the show." "What happened? Well, all I know is that I gave 110 percent to that show," she said. "I know everybody's talking about it, they're saying good, bad, they love me or hate me, but the one thing you can't say is that I didn't give it my all." Cowell also used his time with "Extra" to squash rumors that Beyoncé or Mariah Carey might be joining the "X Factor" team when it returns to Fox later this year. He seemed particularly amused by <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/08/idUS114237084820120208" target="_blank">talk</a> that the show was offering Beyoncé a nine-figure contract to join the judges' table. "The budget for the show is $100 million. That would never ever happen. It's absolute nonsense," he told "Extra." "No one is going to pay $100 million for someone. I genuinely haven't had a conversation with her about it. Not at all." The same can be said for Carey, who Cowell said he likes very much and would be a fine addition to the show but is an impractical choice because of the long hours involved. "I adore her, love her," he said. "But you can't expect someone who has just had two kids [and] has a record career to make the kind of commitment we would need on this show." "X Factor" did not perform as strongly as expected in the ratings last fall, which many feel precipitated the planned revamp, though the ever-cool Cowell is not sweating the competition. In this latest interview, Cowell took on "The Voice," which returned to NBC after the Super Bowl and delivered big ratings, saying the makeup of his judging panel is what sets "X Factor" apart. "I would ask how many records have they made, how many artists have they discovered?" Cowell asked of "The Voice" mentors Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. "That's where we have to be different on the judging panel. It's very important that you have people on the panel that have actually signed and made artists successful all over the world, not just have made hit records yourself."</p>Related Videos