Fleur East says young musicians taking part in The X Factor should be given more detailed guidance about their future in the entertainment industry.
The 33-year-old singer said a talent show like the ITV behemoth "needs to come with a warning" for newbie musicians who might be naïve to the pressures of the industry.
East first competed on the second series of The X Factor in 2005 as part of the girl group Addictiv Ladies before returning as a soloist in 2014 — finishing in second place behind winner Ben Haenow.
She signed to Simon Cowell's label, Syco, after the competition, but was dropped in 2017 after releasing just one album — 2015's Love, Sax and Flashbacks.
Watch: Jedward speak out against Simon Cowell and The X Factor
But now East wants younger musicians to be given more realistic and nuanced advice about the inner workings of the music business.
She told The Mirror: “I think from the start you need to be told of the risks involved.
"A lot of young contestants don’t really know of the pitfalls and the hardship. When you get signed you think you’ve made it.
"They don’t realise that’s only the beginning.”
East said she often reaches out to young performers via DM on social media and speaks frankly about her TV experiences on The Reality of Reality TV — the podcast she hosts.
The star said she didn't feel supported by Syco during her time with the label and felt she was "put on a shelf".
She added: “I was 26 and I’d written stuff. As soon as I got to Syco I knew I wanted to write and be very much involved. My experience was really different.
"But I wouldn’t be doing all the amazing things I’m doing now if I hadn’t been on that show.”
East is not the only former X Factor star to criticise Cowell and the show, with Jedward laying into him in a social media rant about the industry.
An X Factor spokesman told The Mirror: “Duty of care to our contestants is of the utmost importance to us. We have measures to ensure they are supported.”
Watch: One Direction mark 10 years since forming on The X Factor