SIMON Cowell is secretly lining up ex-Spice Girl Mel B to replace Dannii Minogue on the X Factor next year, it was claimed on Friday night.
The feisty star, real name Melanie Brown, 34, is reportedly in talks with bosses of the ITV show after current judge Dannii Minogue hinted she may quit the show to start a family. Former Destinys Child singer Kelly Rowland, 28, is also being considered for the job, according to the Daily Mirror.
Dannii, 38, is thought to have told Simon Cowell that she may not return next year. The loved-up judge has publically spoken of her boyfriend Kris Smiths desire to start a family, and has also complained of feeling the 'odd one out on the show.
A source told the newspaper: 'Simon thinks Mel would be brilliant as she is outspoken, down-to-earth and wont hold back. 'There were times in the current series that he felt things were a bit boring and he is certain sparks will fly with her on board. It will be interesting to see whether she and Cheryl Cole will gel or whether it will be handbags at dawn.
Kelly Rowland was tiped to take over from Dannii when it looked like she may leave earlier this year and was invited to Simons 50th birthday party. The source added: 'Although it hasnt been officially confirmed, it is highly likely Dannii wont be on the panel next year and Simon is already thinking about a replacement. DM
Sparks flew when Dannii joined the judging panel two years ago when Sharon Osbourne was on the team. She took an open dislike to the Australian star and claimed she was only on the show because Simon fancied her.
When Cheryl Cole joined the show last year, there were rumours of a rift between the pair as Dannii felt she had been sidelined. This year, they have appeared more friendly but Dannii admitted that they are not friends. DM