Nicole Scherzinger is axed from the X Factor – with Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne to follow

NICOLE Scherzinger has been axed from The X Factor — and Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh are also unlikely to return.

Simon Cowell has been secretly plotting a massive overhaul of the ITV talent show as it enters its 15th year, The Sun can reveal.

Original judges Louis and Sharon, both now 65, have contracts to return this year. But show bosses are looking at terminating these to inject fresh blood. Pop heart-throb Craig David and One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson are in talks to become the new male judge.

Ex-judge Cheryl Tweedy, BGT panellist Alesha Dixon, Kylie Minogue and Mariah Carey are in contention to replace Nicole. An X Factor insider said: “Louis and Sharon are both contracted to return this year, but Simon and the producers have lost faith. They were both terrible on the panel last year. Louis has had a great run, but he’s advertising hearing aids for God’s sake. It’s beyond a joke.

“And Sharon couldn’t even remember some of her own contestants’ names.

“Nicole was a passionate judge but has no contract and won’t be back this year in order to bring in fresh blood.”

Louis has been fired from the show twice, only for close pal Cowell to reverse the ruling.But his decision to take part in a Specsavers drive highlighting his hearing loss has been seen as a bridge too far.

Our show source said: “Louis and Simon remain great friends and it’s not a simple decision to let him go. But serious eyebrows were raised when Louis went public with his hearing loss in a Specsavers campaign about hearing aids.

“It obviously raises the question about whether he’s a suitable judge for a show that aims to find young pop stars.”

Meanwhile Sharon was left exhausted last year by weekly transatlantic flights between London and LA, where she is a panellist on a talk show.

The source said: “Sharon’s X Factor royalty. But there are big question marks on whether she has the commitment req­uired, especially when it comes to working with her contestants.”

Last night a show source confirmed: “There are no plans for Nicole to return to The X Factor this year. Other announcements about the ­judging line-up will be made in due course.

“It is possible either Sharon or Louis could still return because both have contracts.”

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