31/01/2012 14:36 GMT | Updated 31/01/2012 15:47 GMT

'The X Factor USA': Nicole Scherzinger, Steve Jones Axed. Is Paula Abdul Joining Them?

Simon Cowell is notorious for wielding the axe on stars that appear on his shows, and this time he has gone on the rampage, axing THREE of the stars of The X Factor USA.

Earlier today Steve Jones announced he had been axed as host of the American version of the talent show, which he described on his Twitter page as "a shame".

But now judge Nicole Scherzinger has announced her exit, and according to Billboard at least, Paula Abdul will be joining them on Simon's scrapheap too because she's "irrelevant to the mix". Ouch.

A source has told US website Deadline that "none of the three left on their own accord" and that it was a "cleaning house day" in an attempt to refresh the second series of the show.

While neither Nicole or Paula's exits have been confirmed by FOX representatives, E! Online has claimed it was Nicole's choice to leave the show to focus on her music career.

"She wants to focus on her music career," a source said. "She's spoken to Simon and he's given her his blessing.

"X Factor took a lot more of her time than she ever expected. She didn't have any time really to work on her music. She was doing X Factor six days a week."

The former Pussycat Doll came in for criticism when she stepped in to replace axed judge Cheryl Cole, as well as how she dealt with the departure of teenage contestant Rachel Crow.

However, the biggest surprise came courtesy of Simon's rumoured decision to axe longtime pal Paula Abdul, who had previously said she wanted to return to the show.

The pair shared a banter-filled relationship after working together on American Idol and he'd previously told The Huffington Post US he couldn't have done X Factor USA without her.

"I just couldn't imagine doing the show without her," said Simon. "Ever since she left Idol, I just felt as though I had lost my hand. It was never the same. I missed her."

Who needs enemies when you've got friends like Simon, eh Paula?


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