Paula Abdul Leaves X FactorBREAKING… EXCLUSIVE: Today at The X Factor there was a bloodbath which just claimed its biggest name. Not only are host Steve Jones and judge Nicole Scherzinger exiting from the Fox show, but now a Simon Cowell insider just told me that his longtime friend and American Idol colleague Paula Abdul won’t be returning as an X Factor judge next season. I understand from sources that none of the three left on their own accord and that it was cleaning house day at the so-so rated reality series. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any backlash against Simon because of Paula’s popularity.

Last April I revealed exclusively that Cowell, in addition to himself and ”L.A.” Reid, had made up his mind to bring back Paula beside him for X Factor‘s premiere season. “I missed her the second she left (Idol),” Cowell told me at the time. “Always loved working with her even though she can be a pain. I don’t know what it is about her, but I’ve always clicked with her. You just have to get that chemistry, and she’s right. I’ve never found anyone better than her.” It took several months for her contract to be pinned down as she famously held out for more money, only closing her deal hours before the first televised audition. But Abdul added star power to the judging panel as she was the most famous person on the show behind only Cowell.

Earlier tonight, Fox confirmed the departures of both Scherzinger as a judge and Jones as host. The two, originally paired as co-hosts, had been considered the weakest links and likely casualties going into Season 2 after receiving mostly negative reviews for their performances last season. But my news that Abdul is out as well comes as a surprise given her long history with Cowell. With Abdul, Scherzinger and Jones gone, Cowell and L.A. Reid remain the only X Factor personalities from Season 1 to make it to Season 2. Cowell hinted at a major shakeup on the show last month when he was quoted as saying “We change these shows all the time.” Especially after The X Factor failed to live up to Cowell’s own expectations. He famously predicted an average audience of 20 million for the series’ first season. But in actuality, it drew 12.4 million. This are not the first cast changes on The X Factor. Original judge Cheryl Cole was let go after one taping, replaced by Scherzinger. Later on, Scherzinger and Abdul became embroiled in the controversy surrounding the shocking elimination of frontrunner Rachel Crow.

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