Now, head honcho Simon Cowell has apologized to Cole for the chaos surrounding the judging lineup on his new talent show, but insists that she wasn't fired.
According to 'The Sun' newspaper, Cowell takes full responsibility for the decision to replace Cole with Scherzinger, and said he did it for her own good. He said she seemed out of her depth on the U.S. show, and so producers offered her a quiet exit with the offer of returning to her old job on 'The X Factor' U.K.
"The feeling was that she was slightly out of her comfort zone in America. The intention was to do it quietly and say to her she had an option to rejoin the UK show. ... At the end of the day we were saying, 'Move to another show for even more money'. There was an offer of around £2.5 million on the table including bonuses. How is that [firing] someone?"
However, after Cole and her manager, Black Eyed Pea will.i.am, reportedly refused to take phone calls from TV executives to discuss the option, the offer was withdrawn and the new U.K. judging lineup -- sans Cole -- was announced last month.
Cowell said that it was then decided to offer Cole a lifeline to return to the U.S. show, where she was still under contract, and "heated conversations" began with her lawyers and manager. Finally, however, producers decided to give her spot to Scherzinger, leaving Steve Jones as the sole host.
Possibly keen to avoid any more damaging publicity for the newbie show, Cowell said he's not the monster some have portrayed him as. "I embarrassed her. ... But the truth was I was protecting her. I just want people to be in the best place at the right time."
Cowell told 'The Sun' how he'd received a text mesage from Cole saying she felt let down about the U.S. show but understood it was a professional decision. He said: "I replied saying, 'This was never personal or saying you were terrible'. It wasn't that she was terrible -- she was good. I just thought she'd be happier in the U.K."
Cole arrived in the U.S. in a shower of publicity, but her role on 'The X Factor' was overshadowed by the last-minute signing of Paula Abdul and issues surrounding her accent and appeal (or lack thereof) to the U.S. audience. So far she has not spoken publicly about the debacle, but a friend told 'The Sun' that, "She just wants to take a break from all this and look to the future."