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Simon Cowell: 'The X Factor' "half-lied" about Britney Spears quitting on Day 1


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/11/2012 

Simon Cowell has admitted he and his The X Factor team weren't honest when they insisted new second-season judge Britney Spears just needed a little bathroom break when she walked off the show's set during the first day of filming.

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Cowell recently came clean, owning up to the fact Spears actually did almost quit -- despite the pop singer and network's firm denials at the time -- The X Factor her very first day on the job in May after having a panic attack, TMZ reported.

"Yes she did [have a panic attack]. No one is going to admit on the first day that your highest paid star after 20 minutes has walked off set. I mean, it doesn't look great," laughed Cowell in his interview with TMZ, adding that a slight pep talk with Spears ultimately gave her the confidence to continue on with the show.

"She did have a moment on the first day where she said to me, 'I'm not sure if I can do this.' And then I told her -- which is true -- I said, 'You're doing a really great job and I think you're a really good judge and I think you've just got to deal with this.' And then she walked back in, and from that point on, she was absolutely fine. So we kind of told you half a lie."

Cowell said he wasn't surprised Spears had a little meltdown at the beginning of her The X Factor judging experience.

"I kind of guessed that the first day was going to be difficult for her. And it's a lot to take in, it's a lot of pressure," Cowell explained.

However, The X Factor creator and judge also admitted he initially worried he had made a mistake in hiring Spears, especially since he was paying her a now-confirmed $15 million salary.

"Absolutely, I mean, that pressure -- it's the first day... she's been paid a lot of money and she's our biggest star. And halfway through the door, halfway through the day, you've lost her. But I was kind of expecting it and I've seen it happen before. If they can go back in a second time, then normally, you've got them for the whole series. And now she's fine. She's absolutely dealing with it and I think she's enjoying it," Cowell told TMZ.

When reports first surfaced that Spears got off to a rocky start on The X Factor after storming off set in May, Spears quickly denied the allegations.

"Britneywalksoff??? LOL was just taking a little break people," Spears tweeted at the time. "I am having the BEST time!!!"

A representative for the Fox reality singing competition also backed the 30-year-old pop singer's rebuttal.

"She just took a short break," the spokesperson told Access Hollywood.

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