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"X Factor" shakeup? Rumors fly about host's exit

By Kimberly Potts

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - "X Factor" host Steve Jones' representative says a report that he will be cut from the show is "a fabrication" and that there have been no talks about his exit.

The British newspaper the Daily Mirror reports that Fox plans to rejigger the show by not renewing Jones' contract. It quoted an anonymous source who said, "He got terrible reviews from critics when he started and things haven't got better," and that he is all but certain to be gone from the show next season.

"The Mirror story is a fabrication that we would have corrected had we been called for comment," Jones' publicist said in a statement to TheWrap. "There have been absolutely no conversations about Steve Jones leaving 'The X Factor.' Steve is very happy with the outcome of this season and he looks forward to being back and discovering more talent in the new year."

A Fox rep, meanwhile, tells TheWrap the network has no comment on Jones' status with "The X Factor," and a representative for Cowell's Syco Entertainment called the Mirror story "pure speculation."

Judge Nicole Scherzinger, the Pussycat Dolls singer who herself was discovered via the reality TV talent search series "Popstars," has also drawn many negative reviews. When asked during an "X Factor" news conference on Monday about whether she would return for season two, Scherzinger declined to make a definitive statement.

"For me, what's important is to live in the moment. I need to get ("X Factor" finalist) Josh (Krajcik) coming out swinging and feeling amazing this week and to make sure I finish my job," Scherzinger said. "I've put my heart and my soul and passion...I put a thousand percent into this year. So, I'm just going to focus on making sure I do a really good job with Josh here this week and only God knows what will happen next year."

The questions about who will return next season come just before Thursday's finale of a season that fell short of creator Simon Cowell's expectations for it. He told critics last summer that he wanted the show to score 20 million viewers, but it has failed to climb from the roughly 12.49 million viewers who watched its September launch.

While the show has stirred buzz for certain episodes -- most notably the December 8 live results show when teen contender Rachel Crow unexpectedly got the boot -- "X Factor" viewership has fallen to as few as 8.51 million -- still an enviable number, but one well off of Cowell's goal.

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