Simon Cowell has officially spoken about the drama surrounding Cheryl Cole on The X Factor both here in the UK and in the states. Over the last two weeks the Girls Aloud star went from a judge on the US show to planning a shock return to the UK series. Today however, she is no longer one either panel.
The embarrassing career gaffe has seen Cheryl miss out on the show either side of the Atlantic, despite huge offers of around £2.8 million being on the table for her.
Talking about all the rumours over the past month, Simon Cowell said today: "The hardest thing to accept is that everyone has painted me as a monster because I embarrassed her, but the truth was I was protecting her. I just want people to be in the best place at the right time.”
It is understood that Cheryl was seen by US bosses as "uncomfortable" on the American show, and was given an opportunity to bow out and return to the UK version. However Cole's new greedy new management team wanted way more than ITV were prepared to pay, resulting in them instead hiring new judge Tulisa Contostavlos.
With the UK X Factor deal falling through, Cheryl was all set to return back to her position on the US show, until however FOX decided to buy the Girls Aloud star out of her contract. The mess leaves Cheryl without a job on either show, although she will take away her £1.5 million fee for the American show despite filming just four shows.
"I apologise that all this has become public and I understand the stress she is under, and I hate that," Simon said. "But we have all been under a lot of stress.
“When things like this happen I look at the contestant, they must think this is crazy. All the attention is on us. I am sorry this has caused so much anguish and embarrassment, but I stand by what I believe was the right intention. And I would say that to her face right now."
The music mogul, who will sit on the US version of the show this autumn, continued: "I had a text from her last Wednesday. She said she felt let down but at the time she understood that it was a professional decision. I replied saying this was never personal or saying you were terrible. It wasn’t that she was terrible – she was good – I just thought she’d be happier in the UK.
“After the year she’d had with Ashley and the whole malaria thing, you either shut it down and go for it or you have to be with your friends and family to deal with it."
Simon added: “We are close friends. I still hope we are but sometimes when you’re that close, when you’re making these decisions with someone’s life you have to be certain. I stand by what I said to her.
"I hope we’re still close friends. I’m sure if she was here now there would be a frank discussion, but will I work with her again? Definitely. She’s a star.”
The X Factor USA auditions continue tomorrow in New York with new judge Nicole Scherzinger.
Cheryl Cole's camp has yet to comment on the situation.