The X Factor will get a revamped judging panel after suffering the worst ratings in its 14-year history last year, it has been claimed.
With auditions for the new series of the ITV talent competition beginning this weekend, Nicole Scherzinger, 39, has reportedly been axed.
Sources had claimed veteran judges Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, both 65, were also in the firing line, but they are to return this year because they are still under contract.
Walsh has a year left on his three-year deal with Simon Cowell’s show and it would cost ITV around £875,000 to buy him out.
A close friend of the former Westlife manager said: ‘Louis has his contract and it is watertight. There will be big changes on the show this year but he won’t be one of them.’
Walsh has been fired from the show twice, only for his friend Cowell to reverse the ruling. But his participation in a Specsavers hearing loss campaign could be a step too far. An insider reportedly told The Sun: ‘Louis has had a great run but he’s advertising hearing aids, for God’s sake. It’s beyond a joke.’
Meanwhile, Gary Farrow, Miss Osbourne’s publicist, said the rumours she would be leaving the show were ‘b******s’.
He added she had a contract ‘for a lot of money’ and ITV would have to pay her out if it wanted to get rid of her.
Miss Scherzinger’s agent could not be reached for comment last night.
Last year’s X Factor final drew 3.9 million viewers, compared with 16 million in 2010.
A spokesman for The X Factor said: ‘It’s too early to confirm the judges for the next series.’
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© Daily Mail