Simon Cowell has revealed how he is creating a new format to replace The X Factor with, should its ratings continue to fall.
In what could be a make-or-break year for the reality series, Simon told the Mail on Sunday today that he would have no second thoughts about axing the programme if it continued to decline.
Despite last year’s instalment being the most watched UK telly show – even more than the royal wedding – viewers dipped by some 1 million on average.
In an honest account of the show's potential in the UK over the next few years, Simon said he would rather make big changes and ruin the show completely, than leave it be and have it slowly lose viewers.
"Most things in music, fashion or TV tend to be across a ten-year period. The great test of someone’s success is if you can transcend a decade," Simon said of the show, which will be in its ninth year come autumn. "I genuinely believe that we can do it again. But only if we are prepared to be a little bit brave."
He explained: "I’d rather fall off the cliff on numbers than deteriorate slowly. That is like death from a thousand cuts.
"Now maybe that might mean with The X Factor we’d say in a year’s time: 'Right, that’s the end of it. Let’s start something new.'"
The Syco boss teased: "We have got something in development which could replace it if we get to that point."
Simon's telly pal Siobhan Greene, Head of TV for the makers of X Factor, added: "He’s thinking about his shows all the time. What we put out on The X Factor or BGT is an hour’s worth of entertainment, but it represents months of pain because I can tell you he’s not just the presenter – he will sit with me and go through every frame of every show.
"I’ve been at events with him – there have been all these gorgeous women flocking around him and he’ll ask me to sit down next to him. In the middle of some major event, he’ll want to talk about a new editing change or a light."
Auditions for The X Factor 2012, due to air in the autumn, are currently underway.