01/11/2011 05:51 GMT | Updated 01/01/2012 05:12 GMT

X Factor Judge Gary Barlow: 'Louis Walsh Doesn't Care, He's Got Some Bad Habits'

X Factor judge Gary Barlow talks exclusively to this week's heat magazine in his first celebrity magazine chat in four years. Here's an excerpt of what he has to say:

Gary smiles wryly. "There's nothing staged on the judges' panel exchanges. It's always real."

Commenting on the quality of this year's finalists, Gary tells heat, "I think they're getting there, but there are definitely some stand-out stars that will leave the rest behind over the coming weeks."

The biggest and most explosive story of the series has been the feuds between the judges. And despite reports that the on-stage spat between Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland was faked to create drama for the cameras, heat can reveal that it was all 100 per cent true. In fact, until the show went on air last Saturday, tensions between them were so bad that the girls still hadn't spoken at all.

A backstage source revealed, "Tulisa and Kelly used to get on really well, but when Kelly started to come into Tulisa's dressing room and suggest songs and styling for her acts it created a weird vibe. Tulisa thought it was odd and when that got back to Kelly it all turned sour and now things are very frosty."

Meanwhile, Kelly has branded Tulisa "unprofessional". Gary, who is fiercely protective of Tulisa, tells heat, "Tulisa is brilliant. To come onto the panel as a complete beginner and put those groups together like she did, shows a real eye for talent. I hope one of her groups gets through to the final few. They're very lucky to have her - she spends a lot of time and energy on them."

Gary has admitted that he's found the show tough, saying, "I have found it draining at times." He's reluctant to be drawn into detail on the extent of Tulisa and Kelly's fall-out, but he does have one thing to say, "Everyone is fiercely protective [of their acts], so it gets quite heated. It's real." He sighs, "I don't get involved in any backstage gossip."

Kelly, who flew to LA last Monday, was looser-lipped, telling heat, "I didn't think it was fair on Misha at all [when Tulisa criticised her]... there was much more professional way of handling it."

A heat source claims that Kelly even spoke to Simon Cowell while she was in LA and asked for his help. She also raised concerns about Tulisa.

Asked about his annoyance with Louis Walsh, who he doesn't seem to gel with, Gary has said, "I think I have seen him once at the house with the contestants. He is in Dublin all week. He doesn't really care." He says: "For someone who's been there for eight years, he's got some pretty bad habits. Louis' song choices are the biggest worry for his acts. But Johnny's version of The Darkness' I Believe In A Thing Called Love two weeks ago was very entertaining."

Check out our slideshow of all the weekend's X Factor acts and click on who you think should be walking off with this year's title...

X Factor contestants voted off

The full interview appears in this week's heat magazine, on sale now.