Simon Cowell insisted it was his "mistake" after his act Gifty Louise became the latest contestant to be eliminated from the X Factor.
The events manager from London got the boot after a tense sing-off against girl group Four Of Diamonds.
But Cowell said he was at fault, rather than the singer, saying: "It's not you, it's me."
Louise found herself in the bottom two after Saturday's 'Fright Night' show, where she sang I'm In Love With A Monster, which is by Cowell's US group Fifth Harmony.
She gave a rousing rendition of A Song For You by Ray Charles in the sing-off, but it was not enough to beat Four Of Diamonds, who had judge Louis Walsh on his feet with their take on Christina Aguilera's The Voice Within.
Louise looked visibly shocked as she was told she was out of the ITV competition.
But talent show boss Cowell said: "It was my mistake. I should never have given you that song.
"You should never have been out of the competition at this point.
"It's not you, it's me."
Moments earlier, Cowell made a bit of a blunder when asked who he wanted to send home, accidentally saying Louise's name.
He quickly changed it, telling host Dermot O'Leary: "No! I'm not sending Gifty home. I'm sending the girls home... Rewind!"
Walsh saved his act Four Of Diamonds and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger also chose to save the girls, despite saying that Louise had delivered a "beautiful moving performance".
The final decision came down to Sharon Osbourne.
She wavered as the crowd chanted and Walsh urged her to "please save the girls".
But she eventually decided to send Louise packing, to much booing from the audience.
Louise said she had enjoyed "every single moment" of the competition.
It was her second shot at X Factor success - the singer made it to the last round of boot camp in 2015, but lost her voice before the final performance.
At the end of the show O'Leary spun the X Factor jukebox to determine the theme for next week, and it landed on Boyband vs Girlband.