Some TV viewers tuning in to the first season premiere of The X Factor last night may have been a bit confused when judge Cheryl Cole suddenly vanished after the first rounds of auditions. With no discussion or explanation, Cole’s seat was abruptly filled by former Sing-Off judge and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

If you have been following the evolution of the American version of The X Factor online, you were probably already aware that Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole didn’t last as an X Factor judge past the first audition round. The question of why she was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger, however, still remains somewhat unresolved. There had been some rumor that Cole’s accent was uncomfortable to American viewers, but X Factor judge and boss Simon Cowell said that wasn’t it.

Speaking to Piers Morgan on CNN, Cowell said that someone at The X Factor screening “put it very well” when they remarked that Cheryl Cole “looked a bit bewildered” during the first auditions. Cowell said Cole did not take the adjustment to working in America very well.

“Not everyone’s like you Piers,” Cowell told the former Britain’s Got Talent judge. “You come to a country like America, it’s a big deal – it takes a while to adjust and I took the view along with a few other people that she would be more comfortable back in the UK.”

Cowell also said Cheryl Cole had rejected his offer for her to return to the British X Factor and that was a shame. “I think if she had taken the UK gig I think nobody would be feeling bad right now because they’re both big shows – well hopefully this one will be as big as the UK show.”

Nicole Scherzinger, meanwhile, is thrilled to have been selected as the replacement to sit on the X Factor judges panel. “I mean I’m not going to lie, I cried when Simon told me because I felt that no matter where he had me on the show I was going to be of service and do the best that I could.”

Scherzinger may be giddy about her gig, but the critics are not so pleased about her replacing Cheryl Cole. The New York Times called Nicole Scherzinger a “downgrade” from Cheryl Cole and USA Today said Scherzinger” makes Paula Abdul look smart.” Ouch!

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