‘IT’S NI­COLE OR ME!’

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If she re­turns to The X Fac­tor, Ch­eryl risks reignit­ing an old feud. She’s had a frosty re­la­tion­ship with out­spo­ken Pussy­cat Dolls singer Ni­cole Scherzinger since 2012, when she de­scribed their first meet­ing as ‘awk­ward’.

Now, an in­sider tells us Ch­eryl has made it clear she has no de­sire to work with Ni­cole.

‘Ch­eryl has found her­self in the mid­dle of a re­ally tense stand­off with Ni­cole, and it’s pre­vent­ing her from sign­ing up to a full-time X Fac­tor come­back,’ a source ex­plains. ‘Ev­ery­one was re­ally sur­prised that Ch­eryl didn’t sit in the fourth judge’s chair when Si­mon was too ill to at­tend – espe­cially as she was there any­way cheer­ing on Liam.

‘But the truth is that there’s still a real un­der­ly­ing ten­sion be­tween Ch­eryl and Ni­cole that is mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for them to sit on the judg­ing panel to­gether.’

Ni­cole, 39, fanned the flames of the feud when she was pic­tured hang­ing out with Ch­eryl’s ex-hus­band, JeanBernard Fer­nan­dez-Versini, in Au­gust.

‘Ch­eryl still seems re­ally an­noyed with Ni­cole that she was hang­ing out with JB, and post­ing it on her so­cial me­dia in the sum­mer,’ the in­sider says. ‘Things are so tense that be­hind the scenes at The X Fac­tor they ap­pear to be go­ing out of their way to avoid each other.

‘Si­mon was thrilled with how au­di­ences re­acted to Ch­eryl, and that’s made him more de­ter­mined than ever to get her on board,’ says our in­sider.

‘Ch­eryl would like to come back – but no­body can see any chance of that hap­pen­ing while Ni­cole is still there.

‘Si­mon feels that he’s ba­si­cally be­ing told, “It’s Ni­cole or me,” and he’s al­ways go­ing to side with Ch­eryl in a sit­u­a­tion.’

With Ni­cole pipped to re­turn to the Pussy­cat Dolls, the songstresses could avoid an awk­ward work­ing re­la­tion­ship. How­ever, Ni­cole hinted she’s set to re­main on the panel next year.

‘I’ve been asked to re­turn and I’m hope­ful we can make it work,’ she said last week.

Will the pop di­vas sit ei­ther side of Si­mon?

Watch this space…

‘There is ten­sion’ be­tween Ch­eryl and Ni­cole’

Ch­eryl helped Si­mon to cut his group acts down from six to three

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