Simon Says of Cheryl Cole's X Factor Exit: She Didn't Seem Happy on U.S. Version

Simon Cowell is finally speaking out about that behind-the-scenes X Factor kerfuffle involving “one of his closest friends,” Cheryl Cole. Brace yourselves, it gets kind of emotional.

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In a candid chat with the Associated Press, Cowell scoffs at claims that the British beauty’s too-thick accent or lack of chemistry with fellow judge Paula Abdul factored into her X Factor exit. Rather, after observing Cole dip her toe into the Stateside X Factor waters, he “genuinely” believed she’d be happier back home on the original U.K. series.

“Not many people will believe that, but that’s the truth,” Cowell said. “She was good on the American show, [but] I personally thought she was missing her family and friends. She just looked a little bit… I wouldn’t say uncomfortable, but just not as happy as I’ve seen her on previous shows.”

The former American Idol captain revealed that plans to keep Cole on the British X Factor were all but complete until word of her sudden ouster from the Fox offshoot leaked to the press. Then things went south… fast.

“I hate seeing her hurt,” he offered. “She’s one of — I hope — my closest friends, and this was a decision we made which we thought would be beneficial to her, funny enough.”

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Cowell, who takes “full responsibility” for this X Factor debacle, said he has been in touch with Cole only once, via text message, since news of the switch-up broke a little over a week ago. “She told me she wasn’t happy but that she also accepted it was a business decision and she wished the show well,” he shared. “Typically, in Cheryl form, she was disappointed but charming at the same time.”

Despite everything that’s gone on between Cowell and Cole, the reality kingpin is eager to put the fiasco in the past and move forward — hopefully with the sassy songstress by his side, in come capacity.

Expressed Cowell, “I always, always would hold the door open to work with her again.”