The claws are out!

In recent episodes of The X Factor, the banter between judges Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell has become increasingly mean-spirited. (In the Dec. 5 episode, for example, the acerbic Englishman told the "Give Your Heart a Break" singer her critique of his group, Emblem3, was "incredibly dumb." Lovato responded by stealing his microphone and talking over him.)

PHOTOS: Meet The X Factor's top 13 contestants

At the X Factor viewing party in L.A. Dec. 6, the 53-year-old TV mogul refused to say if the former Disney Channel star will return as a judge in season 3. "It's that time of year. You're always going to get asked that question, and I'm not going to answer it," he told Us Weekly. "She's fun. She really, really is tough little thing. I know she plays the 'I've been bullied' [card]. Trust me, this one gives as good as she gets."

PHOTOS: Demi Lovato's X Factor style

With only one act left in the competition prior to the Dec. 6 results show, Cowell implied the new judge may have been intentionally steering his groups in the wrong direction to save CeCe Frey. (Unfortunately for Lovato, the 21-year-old was the first act sent home that evening.)

"She knew that she was about to be left with no one and it did get a bit bitchy and unpleasant," Cowell said of Lovato, 20. "I've got to look after my artists. Luckily, they didn't listen to her."

VIDEO: Watch Demi Lovato's emotional "Skyscraper" performance

The remaining four acts -- Emblem3, Fifth Harmony, Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens -- will perform when the X Factor returns Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. EST on FOX.

This article originally appeared on Simon Cowell: Demi Lovato Has Been "Bitchy and Unpleasant" on The X Factor