The X Factor: Two Hosts, and Two New Female Judges for Season 2, Says Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell said he learned a lot during The X Factor‘s first season, not the least of which is that sometimes he’d be better off keeping his big mouth shut. The tart-tongued reality vet, who’d predicted the U.S. version of his British hit would be a ratings behemoth for Fox, had to eat some humble pie when the show achieved solid but not spectacular ratings last fall.

Now, as The X Factor gets ready to kick off its Season 2 audition process March 14 in Kansas City, MO, Cowell fielded a conference call with reporters to preview what changes are in store for his show.

It will take two people to do the work of the departing Steve Jones | “I always wanted a boy and a girl to host the show,” Cowell said, reminding reporters that X Factor had initially intended to have Jones and Nicole Scherzinger share emcee duties in Season 1. (That plan was scrapped when Scherzinger took over as a mentor following Cheryl Cole’s abrupt departure.) With Jones also getting the boot in last month’s X Factor bloodbath, Cowell said he can now get back to his original vision. “The traditional host role has to change into something else,” argued Cowell, who added he thinks it’s “almost impossible” for one person to juggle contestants’ telephone numbers, sponsor integration, on-stage interviews, herding of judges, and other duties. What’s more, said Cowell, he doubts that he’ll end up hiring people who are already in the TV hosting business, instead opting for people who will help X Factor look and feel different from its competitors.

Don’t look for guys to occupy the seats in between Simon and L.A. Reid | Cowell said he is “100 percent” certain he’ll hire two women to replace departing mentors Scherzinger and Paula Abdul.

The show won’t give up on the “Groups” category — despite wretched results in Season 1 | Cowell reiterated that having groups mixed in with solo artists helps differentiate X Factor from The Voice and American Idol. What’s more, he added, there’s a “massive opportunity” for the show to discover this generation’s TLC, N Sync, Backstreet Boys, or Destiny’s Child.

Expect a Whitney Houston tribute | That said, added Cowell, he fully expects Idol and The Voice to pay homage to the late diva before their current seasons end. As a result, X Factor will have to brainstorm ideas to honor Houston “in a different way.”

You probably won’t see a showdown of reality singing competition winners anytime soon | “I was disappointed with the reactions back from the other two shows,” said Cowell when asked about his recent Tweet calling for a World Series of sorts pitting the X Factor champ against the winners of Idol and The Voice. “They’ve both bottled it for now.” Still, never say never, Cowell insisted. “I’m still up for it!”

What do you think of Cowell’s plans for Season 2? Sound off in the comments!