Days after Nicole Scherzinger was tapped to officially replace Cheryl Cole on The X Factor, series creator Simon Cowell says he did all he could to keep Cole around.
Though a source confirms to Us Weekly that her lack of chemistry with the other judges was a key factor in her departure, Cowell tells the Associated Press his primary goal in sending Cole packing was to ease her homesickness.
"I hate seeing her hurt," Cowell says of the 27-year-old Girls Aloud singer, with whom he judged the X Factor's U.K. installment. "This was a decision we made which we thought would be beneficial to her, funny enough," Cowell added, telling the AP he now worries if he'll be able to mend his fractured friendship with Cole. "Not many people will believe that, but that's the truth."
In his interview with the AP, Cowell — who assumes "full responsibility" for Cole's exit — slammed reports that her thick Newcastle, England accent contributed to her departure.
"She was good on the American show," Cowell said. "I personally thought she was missing her family and friends. She just looked a little bit, I wouldn't say uncomfortable, but just not as happy as I've seen her on previous shows."
Despite having taken part in a series of U.S. X Factor auditions, Cole was offered a pay raise to return to England and assume a role on her former show. "It was even to the point she'd asked if she could have my dressing room" in London, Cowell told the AP. Those U.K. contract talks stalled, however, and the deal utlimately fell through.
Attempting to stay in touch with Cole via text message, Cowell has received only one reply from the singer.
"She told me she wasn't happy but that she also accepted it was a business decision and she wished the show well. Typically, in Cheryl form, she was disappointed but charming at the same time," Cowell said. "I always, always would hold the door open to work with her again."
The X Factor premieres on FOX in September.
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