Simon Cowell says he 'had a feeling' Cheryl would quit X Factor - and Liam Payne was partly responsible
Simon Cowell has admitted Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's resignation from the X Factor judging panel came as no surprise, despite being a shock for fans.
While Cheryl said in a statement earlier this week that her decision was because she "missed making music", Simon revealed her blossoming relationship with 22-year-old One Direction star Liam Payne was also partly responsible.
He told The Mirror: "I had a feeling she would leave. She is at a certain place in her life at the moment.
"I saw her and Liam a couple of weeks ago and they looked really happy.
"And I believed for a long while that her big thing was to make records. It's a huge commitment to do one of these shows."
Cheryl, who is working on a new album for later this year, quit the show, saying: "I have had such an amazing experience being a judge on The X Factor.
"I have learnt so much and enjoyed nurturing talent but I've missed making music and am excited to be recording again.
"I want to thank everybody I have worked with along the way, especially Simon, who I love to bits. I hope the show continues to produce stars and I wish them all the best."
Simon denied there was any bad blood on his side, adding, "We are on good terms and will probably end up doing something else together. Maybe a different sort of show.
"I have something in mind I want to talk to her about. But I don't think a break will do her any harm."
The former Girls Aloud singer joined the talent show in 2008 and two of her acts went on to win the show - Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry.
She left the judging line-up in 2010 before returning again in 2014.
She mentored last year's runners-up, Reggie N Bollie, who finished behind 17-year-old Louisa Johnson.
The latest series suffered low ratings, but he did not blame Cheryl for the lacklustre shows.
"I thought the show as a whole was low energy. You get years like that. I don't think it's a Cheryl thing. I don't think I was on top form. There was something missing. I couldn't work it out.
"But I think I have worked it out now when we announce what we are going to do next. I mean it wasn't a disaster...we had a great winner."
As well as Cheryl, Nick Grimshaw, Olly Murs and Caroline Flack have confirmed their exit from the show.
Simon also discussed the effect of the death of his mother Julie, who died last July aged 89.
HE said: "I found it difficult when something is really affecting your life and you are on a talent show and you are trying to be up and happy.
"I didn't feel myself and it really took me a year to come out of it.
"We have all been there. And I am not saying I am the only person it's ever happened to but it hit me hard.
"Now I have had some time and rest and I think I have got my mojo back again."
Simon returns on Britain's Got Talent on ITV at 7pm.