The X Factor hasn't yet begun and there is already drama simmering between past and present judges. Nicole Scherzinger blanked a question regarding her predecessor on the show, Cheryl, during a Press Association series launch on Thursday (25 July).
The 38-year-old former Pussycat Doll singer – who has returned as a judge on the talent show since the 10th series in 2013 – refused to comment on her feelings regarding Cheryl's absence on the judging panel for the upcoming series.
In an awkward exchange with a reporter at the PA event, Scherzinger stayed silent when a reporter asked: "But you're disappointed that you missed out on Cheryl then?"
She then appeared unnerved and glanced at her representative, who cut in with: "OK, let's move on," suggesting there are tensions between her and the Girls Aloud singer.
The mutual aversion may be related to Cheryl's 2012 autobiography, My Story, which remarked how the pair's meeting was "so awkward." Cheryl – who is dating One Direction star Liam Payne – explained how she cringed when Scherzinger sang her hit song Promise This back to her.
She claimed: "I swear to God, the woman sang the whole song, to my face. It was just so awkward."
Despite Cheryl's candid remarks immortalised in hardback, Scherzinger was quick to slam the anecdote as untrue. In an interview with Fabulous magazine, she explained: "No. No. The story is I met her once at The X Factor, and I wanted to make her feel good. I said I'd heard her song on the radio, and I think I sang the words 'promise this'. But I really don't know any lyrics after that."
"And then that is made out to be something else, and I don't understand why. I don't understand why anybody would do that. It's been blown out of proportion, and it's silly," she added.
Tensions may have possibly escalated after Cheryl was fired after a month of appearing on the US version of X Factor when viewers struggled to understand her Geordie accent. She was hastily replaced by Scherzinger before she was also dropped from the US shoe after just one series – swiftly moving overseas to take her seat on the UK show. Her contestant James Arthur took the crown in 2012.
Now, it appears that history has repeated itself as Scherzinger has once again taken Cheryl's seat on the show, despite the Girls Aloud star quitting earlier this year to focus on her music career.
Watch the X Factor this Saturday (27 August) at 8pm on ITV.