'X Factor': Simon Cowell talks CeCe Frey, Emblem3 and Demi Lovato

simon-cowell-x-factor-top-4-party-fox.jpgNow that "The X Factor" is down to the semifinals, Simon Cowell is facing the obvious questions: Will new judges Demi Lovato and Britney Spears be back next year?

"It's that time of year," Cowell says with a grin.

"You're always gonna get asked that question. And I'm not going to answer it!"

But Cowell acknowledges he's bonded with Lovato throughout their first season together, and their on-air feud is something he's come to enjoy. "She's fun," Cowell says about Lovato. "She really, really is a tough little thing. I know she plays, 'I'm being bullied!' Trust me, this one gives as good as she gets."

As for Lovato's harsh words for Emblem3, the boy band Cowell is mentoring, he speculates she knew her own act, CeCe Frey, was in danger of going home: "[Demi] knew she was about to be left with no [contestants] and it did get a bit bitchy and unpleasant. I've got to look after my artists. Luckily they didn't listen to that."

Cowell doesn't believe the judges were overly harsh on Frey, who was finally eliminated tonight after several close calls, and has an interesting idea for what she should do post-"X Factor": "CeCe's a tough nut. You know what you're entering into [when you audition for the show]. Everyone knows her name now. I said to her tonight she should do her own reality show. [That] didn't go down particularly well. [She said] 'I'm a singer!' I said you can do both."

Meanwhile, Cowell is feeling confident about Emblem3's chances in the music industry, even if they don't win the show (despite a vocal fan base of teen girls, the group has never placed higher than third in weekly rankings). "I think there's a pretty good chance [I'll sign them to a record deal]," Cowell says. "I'm not gonna let anyone else get them. There'll be some pretty big announcements at the end of the show."

Next week's semifinals pit favorites Tate Stevens (mentored by L.A. Reid) and Carly Rose Sonenclar (mentored by Spears) against Cowell's Emblem3 and girl group Fifth Harmony. But don't expect to see any more weekly rankings. The next time the audience will see which act finished #1 will be when the winner is announced on Dec. 20.

"We have to," Cowell said about stopping the rankings next week. "The reason we did it tonight was because there was a change and we wanted to tell everyone there was a change. Otherwise everyone would've assumed Carly would've been #1. But that's been the excitement of showing the leaderboard, it does change."

Although Season 2 has dropped in the ratings from Season 1, and didn't get the boost some had predicted from adding Spears to the judges' table, Cowell says he's happy with how "The X Factor" is progressing. But there's one thing about this season he definitely doesn't want to repeat.

"There was a time a few weeks ago where you literally couldn't find the show," Cowell laments about the period when MLB games forced FOX to make some odd scheduling choices. "I was worried we were losing our way, nobody knew when [the show] was going to be on and people weren't getting to know the contestants. Then the last two or three weeks it feels like we've got our groove back. I like the contestants this year and I like the fact that it's an open competition. I feel happier now. But it was tough in that middle section, we have to make sure we avoid that next year."
Photo/Video credit: FOX
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