Simon Cowell has said he is unsure whether One Direction's status is "a hiatus or a break-up".
The admission, which came during an interview with Billboard magazine, ignited speculation about the heartthrob band's future.
"I don't know if it's a hiatus or a break-up, to be honest," Cowell admitted.
He added: "In a weird way, I don't want to know. I don't think they've had enough time to experience what it's like not being in the group to really answer that."
One Direction - Harry Styles, 22, Liam Payne, 22, Niall Horan, 22, and Louis Tomlinson, 24 - have not commented publicly on the remarks.
Since their much-publicised hiatus was announced in 2015, the band members have remained in the public eye.
Tomlinson is a new father and has a record label, while band mate Horan has capitalised on his interest in golf with a management company.
Payne recently went public with his relationship with The X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and is working on new music.
But a good deal of the interest centres on what Styles will do next.
He has new material in the pipeline, as confirmed by The X Factor boss.
"He'll work out what kind of record he wants to make because he's got great taste, which is always a help," Cowell told Billboard.
"All the writers and producers want to work with him, understandably, but he probably won't rush into it."
On the subject of the band itself, the 56-year-old star said: "They'll decide when they want to come back together."
Former member Zayn Malik, 23, is enjoying solo chart success.
Pillowtalk, the lead single from his debut album Mind Of Mine, topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.