Joel Ryan / Invision/AP 1 / 24
Joel Ryan / Invision/AP 1 / 24

Simon says...

Fans were shocked when the former U.K. "X Factor" judge Cheryl Cole was dropped from the American spin-off's panel of judges in an 11th hour decision on May 23 -- to only be replaced a week later by Nicole Scherzinger. And while former "American Idol" judge and "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell attributed the British singer's departure to homesickness, he has now opened up about exactly what went down in a recent interview on Radar.

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"After two cities, I offered [Cheryl] the job, which initially she accepted," Cowell, 51, said on Saturday. "And then unfortunately when it went public, the negotiations fell apart, so I though she would be more comfortable doing the U.K. show than the American show."

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"For certain reasons, [she] decided not to [come back to the U.K.] And that's why it ended up the way it is," he added.

But despite homesickness claims, a source close to Scherzinger told Us Weekly in June that Cowell was more concerned with the panel's chemistry.

"Throughout the whole decision making process, Simon was really torn between Cheryl and Nicole. He absolutely loved Nicole, really felt like she was the right one, but also knew his chemistry with Cheryl had been great before in the U.K. He finally decided on the more comfortable option and chose Cheryl."

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Cowell, who co-judged the show's U.K. installment with Cole, 28, from 2008 to 2010, admitted that their friendship hasn't been so sunny. "I am sorry for the way it worked out as we were incredibly close. She is still grumpy with me."

The "X Factor," whose final panel of judges include Cowell, Scherzinger, L.A. Reid and Paula Abdul, premieres on FOX September 21.


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