The X Factor Usa bosses have stepped up their attempts to lure Britney Spears to the judging panel for the show's second season - with the international pop superstar thought to be "very close" to inking a deal, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Intense negotiations between Simon Cowell and his cohorts have taken place in recent weeks, with the team eager to put together a formidable line-up following the exit of Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul.
Scherzinger was originally planned to be a dual-host with Welsh presenter Steve Jones for the debut season, though the former Pussycat Doll was moved to the judges desk, with Jones presenting alone. Although the show was generally well-received, Simon has made no secret of his desire to take it to the next level and deliver bigger ratings. Though Katy Perry, Mariah Carey and Beyonce have all been linked with the two vacant judging roles, it is understood Britney has emerged as the clear favorite among show bosses and talks are already underway. The singer, whose schedule is empty for the next year, is reportedly "eager to sign on" and could be joined by Janet Jackson or Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, who have also been linked with the post.
Though Cowell insists the departure of Abdul was amicable, the Sun-Times reports that the former judge is "still smarting", with an insider commenting, "Paula really didn't see it coming, her being fired from the show.She's still really p*ssed about it, and Simon knows it".