Simon Cowell is going head to head with Little Mix over a battle of the bands show and has opened up about the rift that spurred him on to get in ahead of them.
The music mogul launched the careers of the girl band when they won his ITV contest The X Factor in 2011, the first group ever to win the show.
But now, a bitter rivalry has kicked off between the label boss and popstars as they both go for TV glory with two new star searches taking place at the BBC and ITV.
Cowell explained to The Sun why he had chosen to scrap his X Factor All Stars series this year to get ITV’s X Factor The Band on air first ahead of Little Mix’s The Search for BBC One.
He said that he had always planned to launch the band series in 2020, but when he was approached by Little Mix’s management to say that they would be doing something similar in 2021 and ask whether he would co-produce it, things turned sour.
Cowell explained: “Then we had the fallout and find out Little Mix were bringing their show forward. Was that intentional because we are doing our show? I have no idea.
“But regardless, it was too much fun not to do this year. I would rather it was us doing it first.
“It 100 per cent makes it more exciting there being a battle.”
Cowell no longer represents Little Mix at Syco, although they remain one of the most successful acts to come out of The X Factor.
His current series running at ITV is X Factor Celebrity, where he mentors the groups category and which this weekend saw former soap stars Victoria Ekanoye and Jonny Labey sent home while Martin Bashir survived to sing another week.
The show replaces the normal schedule slot for The X Factor and was expected to be followed by an all-stars version inviting back previous winners and stars in a Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions style event until Cowell announced his plans to bring forward his band search.
In 2002, ITV aired Popstars: The Rivals where Girls Aloud were formed, and Cowell launched La Banda in 2015, a Spanish-language search for a Latino boy band.