Louis Walsh has fanned the flames of his spat with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini by claiming she would refuse to be an X Factor judge if Nicole Scherzinger returned to the show.
The music manager also ruled Robbie Williams out from joining the show, having previously tipped the singer as his replacement, saying “he told me he can’t”.
Walsh was embroiled in a war of words with Fernandez-Versini last week after he branded her “lazy” and “irrelevant”, to which she responded by claiming the 62-year-old had an “obsession” with her.
And Walsh told the Sun on Sunday: “Cheryl’s got a job. Why won’t she let Nicole be on the panel this year? Why won’t she allow Simon to have Nicole on the panel? There’s your f***ing story. That’s the truth.
“Because Nicole’s good. She won’t sign if Nicole signs.
“I thought Nicole would be great to get back. I really do. If I was going to hire any female, it would be her. Sharon Osborne would be amazing too. She was brilliant. The year before was so fun. But Simon won’t hire her because he can’t control her.”
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi and One Direction’s Niall Horan were also among his favourites to replace him, Walsh added.
Last week he told Heat magazine: “Cheryl wasn’t great last year, she’s sometimes lazy and lacks energy. She needs to give more, she can give so much more.
“She’s irrelevant these days. I know people say the same about me, but apart from anything, I am fun and I have a rapport with Simon.
“Personally, I’d rather have Mel B on the panel. I love her – but that’s not going to happen.”
The singer hit back on her Twitter feed, writing: “I am beginning to wonder if Louis has some kind of an obsession with me..
“I mean this is every year whether I am or am not a part of the show and btw. This is the same man asking me what he should say to contestants on our way to the stage because ‘he doesn’t know’.”
She added: “Dear Lou Lou. Try using your mouth to say something positive about something positive.”
X Factor supremo Simon Cowell said “there was always going to be a clash” between the pair.
Speaking last week, he said: “They’ve never liked each other, those two … (When Cheryl was in Girls Aloud) he was their manager. Now, Louis managing a girl band, disaster, he just doesn’t do it well.”