Nicole Scherzinger must be murmuring under her breath, 'Don't cha wish your judging talents were hot like mine?' as reports emerge that Rita Ora was shimmied out of The X Factor because Simon Cowell fancied having the Pussycat Doll back on his panel.
As IBTimes UK previously speculated on the reason Ora walked away from her £1.5 million X Factor deal, citing the Beyoncé 'Becky with the good hair' row, music career and The Voice UK as potential factors, it appears she threw in the towel after discovering Scherzinger was above her in Cowell's pecking order. Mirror Online reports that show boss Cowell has the responsibility of picking each individual judge this year, with no pressure from ITV bosses, and originally invited Ora to return to her seat, which she had accepted.
However, once the 25-year-old Kosovan-born singer heard rumours that Cowell would drop her if he could nab Scherzinger, she legged it before events unravelled, avoiding the humiliation Cheryl Fernandez-Versini endured after her X Factor USA sacking.
A source said: "Simon offered Rita her old job back but always knew he'd withdraw it if he could get Nicole. Now Rita has found out about it and has claimed that she has 'quit' so that it doesn't look like she was pushed."
The 37-year-old Pussycat Doll hasn't really been in the limelight or dominated the charts since her successful stint on the ninth series of the talent show in 2012, where her act, James Arthur, took the crown. But showbiz watchers say she is 'considering' Cowell's offer, and rightly so. Louis Walsh, 63, has already signed up for a £500,000 deal and Sharon Osborne is tipped to be the other female judge.
Ex-presenter Dermot O'Leary is set to return after quitting in 2015, in a bid to clean up the mess left behind by duff hosts Caroline Flack and Olly Murs. The other panellists from last year's line-up have dropped like flies, as Fernandez-Versini, Nick Grimshaw and now Ora have all jumped ship.
But what has the apple of Cowell's eye, Ms Scherzinger, been doing since her X Factor fame? We couldn't help but have a little dig.
Back to The X Factor like a Boomerang
Aside from an on-off romance with Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton, the Hawaiian-born singer released the record Boomerang in the wake of her UK television glory in 2013, which debuted and peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart. She had a little help from a famous friend, however, as will.i.am produced the hit. She then returned to The X Factor UK for its tenth series in August 2013, having signed a $2.5 million contract. Kerching-Scherzinger.
Another big fat flop for Scherzinger
Often referred to as the 'driving force' behind the Pussycat Dolls, the fiercely ambitious Scherzinger secured a $4.5 million record deal with Sony Music Entertainment. Though Cowell confirmed she would not return to the talent show for its eleventh series, she released her second studio album, Big Fat Lie, in October, which turned out to be more of a big fat flop, only reaching number 17 in the UK Album Chart. Gulp.
Pussycat Doll to fully fledged feline in Cats
In December 2014, Scherzinger put her recording failures aside and took the plunge as a stage actress, making her West End debut as Grizabella in the revival musical of Cats for a 12-week run. She was praised for her performance, especially for her rendition of Memory, and garnered a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical. Here, here!
Most recently, it was announced in March 2016 that Scherzinger had been cast to play Penny in the television adaption of Dirty Dancing, which will air on ABC, but will that all go to pot now that she could be waltzing her way back onto UK screens? We'll have to wait and see.