Photo Credit: Desiree Navarro/WireImage
Simon Cowell thinks fans of The X Factor should prepare themselves for a tougher slate of judges than they were used to last year. In particular, new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato -- who join Cowell and music producer L.A. Reid -- won't be all sweetness and light when the show premieres (8 p.m. ET this Wednesday on Fox).
"I've seen the first show and I think it's sensational," he told reporters during conference call promoting the new season. "I think the girls do a great job and the contestants are great. The show looks different than anything we've ever made before."
When filming first started, Cowell called Spears mean -- but fellow female judge Lovato was quick to defend her. "He’s totally joking!" she told iVillage exclusively last month. "With this show, there’s not really the mean one, the nice one, the funny one -- we don’t have the typical panel of judges. I think we’re all really honest and sometimes it can come off as mean."
But British reality-show magnate once again commented on Spears' not-so-nice judging persona -- and this time it doesn't sound like he's joking.
"[She] is a fascinating person because you just don't know anything about her," Cowell said during the call. "She's very unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen. She has taken this very seriously and she's surprisingly quite mean."
Spears is uncompromising in what she expects from the contestants, Cowell adds.
"In the past we've had judges that never say no," he continues. "[But] she can't say no quick enough on this show. She's quite difficult to please."
Lovato, who was also on the conference call, said audiences will get to see a new side to Spears.
"I feel like the world hasn't gotten a chance to see her personality over the past couple years," she said. "This is the perfect opportunity to see the light inside of her just shine. And she is very witty and funny and quirky. I just have such a good time working with her."