07 June 2011
Simon Cowell has publicly apologised to Cheryl Cole after she was dumped from both the UK and US versions of The X Factor.
Cheryl was transferred from the UK to the US version of the show at Simon's request, but she failed to impress bosses in her judging role and was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger.
Simon has now insisted that Cheryl was not fired, but that she really wasn't comfortable on the American show.
He says, "I'm sorry. I hope we're still close friends. She's still a star. The hardest thing to accept is that everyone has painted me as a monster because 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... It wasn't that she was terrible - she was good. I just thought she'd be happier in the U.K.
"We noticed she was quieter than normal. 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 U.K. 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 million on the table including bonuses. How is that sacking someone?"
And he wants Cheryl to forgive him for the mess, because he still considers her a friend.
He added, "I hate seeing her hurt. She's one of - I hope - she's one of my closest friends, and this was a decision we made which we thought would be beneficial to her, funny enough."