The first episode of the new series debuts next Saturday, with husband and wife team Robbie Williams and Ayda Field, as well as Louis Tomlinson replacing Sharon Osborne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh as judges.
Speaking about how this year’s show differs from last year, Simon told the Daily Mirror: “It’s definitely not as tense as last year. Last year was hard work. It ended well but, God, it was a slog, I tell you.
“It was one of those years that I knew we had to make a change, for sure. It just happens, particularly on this show.”
The latest series will have auditions in front of a live audience with a new Golden X, similar to Britain’s Got Talent’s Golden Buzzer, ensuring a safe passage for one hopeful through to the tense six-chair challenge in the second round.
Simon said: “I’ve had more fun during auditions than I have had in years. I love doing auditions in front of an audience.
“You sit in a small room and someone’s great and literally nothing happens. In the arena when it’s a good audition they go nuts.”
He stressed that the show was fun again and the new cohort of judges was exactly what he looking for, noting: “They are all fans of the show in their own way, and of course Louis started out on the show.”
Host Dermot O’Leary agreed that there was a more fun and up beat attitude on set, with all of the judges children visiting the set at some point.
Dermot said: “Eric [Simon’s son] has been hanging out at auditions, and Robbie and Ayda’s kids have come down too, along with grandparents and dogs.
“It has changed the vibe. It feels more like a family environment.”
Simon also insisted that Ayda, a former US soap star and ‘Loose Women’ panellist is the right person to judge the show, even with her lack of musical background.
He said: “You don’t have to be a music manager or an artist to be on this show. You have to have taste, good instincts. I think she’s amazing.”
Meanwhile, Ayda has insisted that she was suited to the job, even commenting that she was becoming more like Simon: “We’ve started to pick up on Simon’s game – if we say something smart or have an idea, Simon repeats it and knows his version will make the edit.
“So now I keep trying to clump myself with Simon so he can’t edit me out. I mean, we’ve got to take Simon down, Dr Evil can’t win all the time.”
She pointed out her musical experience all comes from helping Robbie with his career for the past 12 years.
“I don’t want to say I’m the brains – but I am the brains,” she joked. “I’ve helped Rob for 12 years now. I’ve been part of every song choice for like five albums, every creative for his live shows, his tours, music videos.”
Ayda is in charge of the girls category on this year’s show and is keen to make her mark, saying: “It’s the year of the woman, dude. I’m going to give these boys the biggest surprise of their lives.”