I hate The X Factor room auditions as they're awkward, says Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell has admitted the reinstatement of the audition room segment in the new series of The X Factor has been a "nightmare" and caused him to feel "awkward and uncomfortable".
The ITV singing programme returns for its 13th series on Saturday August 27 and will see head judge Cowell joined by previous panellists Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Osbourne.
The intimate room auditions are also making a comeback after being scrapped last year, but Cowell is not a fan of the format.
He said: "I hate it. Personally, I've found it a nightmare. That's probably why people like it so much."
The room auditions were replaced for several series by live auditions, during which the hopefuls sang in front of the judges and a live audience. In series 10 and 11, both the live and room auditions were used.
Cowell admitted he prefers the "easier" live auditions.
He said: "You have the public behind you. When [the contestants] come in and they are really bad, there's literally nowhere to hide.
"But I get why people like it. Artists have got to evolve in these competitions - you start off small, then you get to a bigger stage, then even bigger, and that's more interesting."
In the forthcoming series, viewers can expect acts including a living doll and a woman who stormed into the audition room uninvited.
The new series of The X Factor also sees the return of host Dermot O'Leary, who left in 2015 after eight years.
He admitted he had reservations about returning to the show, which was presented by Olly Murs and Caroline Flack last year.
However, he said it "feels great" to be back.
O'Leary said: "I felt like I had drawn a line in the sand. Then I gave myself some time to think about it and I realised I had missed the live shows, I missed the team and I missed being part of a show that's part of the national conversation and culture."
Scherzinger, who is making her return to panel after appearing as a judge in 2012 and 2013, defended the judging line-up against criticism that it is "too old".
The former Pussycat Dolls star is the youngest on the panel at 38, while Cowell is 56, Osbourne is 63, and Walsh is 64.
She said: "I don't think the panel is too old. I mean, you have me and I'm Sch-amaze balls! Then Simon invented this, Mrs O is the queen of rock and roll and Lou Lou has been doing this forever, so I think experience speaks for itself.
"I think it's hard when you're trying to make a new start and discover things, just blossoming and haven't experienced life yourself. You're still trying to figure it out, so how are you going to mentor someone else who hasn't even gone through life enough?"