“You meet someone special a few times in your life, and this girl is special. She’s going to do really well in America," Simon Cowell gushed of his protege Cheryl Cole ahead of her much-vaunted move to the US X Factor in 2011.
But just a few days in, Cheryl's American dream came crashing down when she was unceremoniously sacked amid claims no-one could understand her Geordie accent.
For Cheryl though, the biggest twist of the knife was that her then best pal Simon left it to the show's executive producer Richard Holloway to tell her.
"He wasn't right not to tell me to my face," she later told Elle magazine, admitting she'd retaliated with an expletive-laden message.
"It said, 'f*** you, f*** Fox, f*** the orange and purple outfit, f*** the UK X Factor, f*** you all. I hate you," she said.
Cheryl had been signed up for two series of the show with a salary of £1.1million for the first and £2million for the second.
But after the Los Angeles and Chicago auditions, Cowell began to have second thoughts and suggested she go back to the UK version in a deal worth £2.5million.
According to Cowell, negotiations for her to make a 'triumphant return' to the UK like Louis Walsh had done after his own sacking broke down when the public got wind.
“If she had accepted my original offer, she would have made a sensational return and would have understood she was more comfortable in the UK than the US," he told The Mirror at the time.
"I am sorry this has caused so much anguish and embarrassment, but I stand by what I believe was the right intention. And I would say that to her face right now.”
For Cheryl, it had been a year of hell with her marriage to Ashley Cole collapsing amid yet more claims of his infidelity.
She was then struck down with life-threatening malaria after a holiday to Tanzania, spending four days in intensive care.
And Simon said it was clear she'd "lost her confidence" before also making a cutting comment about her appearance and weight at the first auditions.
"When I saw her I didn't recognise her. Literally. The hair and outfit were crazy. Just totally crazy," he told the Radio Times.
"I asked her manager, 'What's she wearing, what's happened to her hair?'
"He was defensive about it. I haven't a clue why she turned up like that.
"She'd put on a bit of weight, but not loads. That wasn't the issue.
"The only way I can describe it is that it wasn't Cheryl sitting in that seat. She'd lost her confidence."
A furious Cheryl returned to the UK and later sued producers Blue Orbit for loss of earnings. She received an unspecified out-of-court settlement.
It would take her until 2014 to open up about the "hell" she went through.
"It literally drove me mad. I became so desensitised, you could say terrible things to me and I wouldn't even think about it. I'd read awful stuff about myself and not blink. I shut down because I didn't know what else to do," she told heat magazine.
However, she ended up agreeing with Cowell on one thing.
“Now I can say that Simon was right to get rid of me," she told Elle.
“I wasn't well in the head when that was going on, so it wasn't going to work."
She was reportedly paid £1.5million to rejoin the UK show in 2014 after finally making peace with Cowell.
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