Simon Cowell has denied holding a grudge against Little Mix, after he announced he is launching another version of the X Factor to rival the girl group’s upcoming talent show.
The music mogul, who celebrated his 60th birthday last month, said he owed the band “a lot” but that “sometimes you want to be the first one to do it”.
Cowell reportedly axed a proposed X Factor: All Stars series, which had been set to premiere next month and feature previous winners including Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.
Instead, he will premiere X Factor: The Band to find all-male and all-female groups.
It will be a direct rival to The Search, the talent show set to be launched by Little Mix on BBC One next year.
Speaking on Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston’s Heart radio show, Cowell said he had always intended to launch a group version of the X Factor in the UK and had simply fast-tracked the project.
He told fellow Britain’s Got Talent judge Holden: “We have worked together for 14 years. It’s the same with music, radio, TV. Sometimes you have just got to do something quick.
“I have a group show which I launched in America four or five years ago. We had always decided to do a group show in the UK.
“We had agreed with ITV that we were going to do the X Factor groups in 2020. That was all fine. Then we were going to do the all-stars version this year.
“Then when we found out that the Little Mix show was going to go out in 2020 I didn’t want to follow their show since we had already planned it years ago.
“I thought, well, we will just bring it forward. Simple as that. It wasn’t like some grudge against Little Mix or whatever, because I owe those girls a lot.
“Even though we gave them a launch pad, they sold a lot of records. I thought their idea was a great idea but sometimes you want to be the first one to do it.”
Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall won the 2011 series of the X Factor as a group having been formed on the show after originally auditioning as solo singers.
They were signed to Cowell’s record label Syco Music but parted ways last year.
Cowell also suggested that in the future the X Factor’s original, group and celebrity versions could rotate on a yearly basis.
He also hinted he would be making an announcement of “very good news” about Britain’s Got Talent “very shortly”.