Simon Cowell has admitted that The X Factor “lost sight of its contestants” in recent years, saying the show’s focus on the judging panel is “complete nonsense.”
The music mogul, 59, has shelved The X Factor’s usual civilian version this year in favour of two shorter spin-offs, an ‘all-star’ edition which sees former contestants compete and a celebrity edition.
With the contestants expected to be of a higher profile, Cowell is hoping the emphasis will now be firmly on who’s taking part rather than who’s issuing the critique.
His change in focus comes as former X Factor stars Ayda Field and Robbie Williams announced they were stepping down from the programme, with remaining judge Louis Tomlinson’s place in the show looking increasingly uncertain.
“I am going to be really honest with you – and this is no disrespect to Robbie or anyone else who has been on the panel – my focus this year is mainly about the people who are coming on the show to compete,” Cowell told The Sun.
“I’m probably talking myself out of a job here, but I think there has been so much emphasis on the judges.”
He continued, “We’ve lost sight of the contestants. It got crazy, I never thought this would happen 20 years ago, when I started this show, that we would be talking more about the judges than the contestants, it’s complete nonsense.
“Somehow that’s the way it’s gone. So that’s why me and Rob were talking, and he could see where I was coming from. It’s about getting the right people to come on the show, that was it.”
No celebrities have been confirmed for the new edition of the X Factor, but Gemma Collins, Megan McKenna and Amanda Holden have all been rumoured to be taking part.
Cowell has previously urged fellow Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams to compete, saying it would be “amazing”.
But no matter who is involved, Cowell is keen to make the celebrity version of the show as serious as the civilian one – reportedly wanting to offer the winner a proper record deal.
“In the same way Pete Waterman made Kylie and Jason musical stars, and what I did with Robson and Jerome, I’d like to think through the process we’ll find someone who can sell records rather than just doing the show as a stunt,” he told The Mirror.
The X Factor returns to ITV later this year