GARY Barlow has warned he will take it personally if his rival X Factor judges criticise his acts on the live shows.
The 41-year-old Take That star has picked chimney sweep Kye Sones (30) mother-of-two Melanie Masson (44) and country music fan Carolynne Poole (32) to take through to the next stage of the ITV1 show.
He said that hearing Tulisa Contostavlos, Louis Walsh or Nicole Scherzinger insult the singers in his over-28s category could upset him.
"If I'm doing a critique on somebody, I try and make it so it helps them for the following week, if they're still there. I don't just critique people for the sake of it just to make TV," he said.
"It's going to end up in disagreements, it always is. I have a relationship (with my acts). When someone insults them it's like someone saying 'Your kid smells' -- you take it very personally."
He added: "The judges' fights are some of the great bits. I think if we just sat there all night going 'That was brilliant' to every act it would be boring."
Barlow admitted he was feeling nervous for his contestants in the run-up to Saturday's first live show, adding: "It's a lot of pressure. The whole country's watching."
He said of returning as a judge for a second year: "It was hard last year as it was my first year and everything was brand new. A lot of things surprised me.
"But the thought of walking away from it without having another go at doing it as a more experienced judge and working with the artists brought me back."
Barlow said the TV talent contest, which has suffered in the ratings this year, looked "polished and professional" and that he is in touch with Simon Cowell about the new series, saying: "We get notes and things."
His contestants insisted that their category is no longer a joke.
"This is definitely the year when we want to make a big difference. It's not the joke category at all this year. That's our mission to make that clear if we haven't already," Sones said.