cowell scherzinger fox 'X Factor': Simon Cowell's up to his old tricks, but with a new targetThe competition to see who will win “The X Factor” title is heating up with 17 finalists getting whittled down to 12 on Tuesday’s (Oct. 25) show.

Certainly fans are all interested in the music, but the biggest draw of the show remains Mr. Mean himself, Simon Cowell. While he got off to a rather polite start, the tongue lashing came out later in the show. His frequent target for the evening was fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger.

At one point during the show, Cowell questioned her skill at mentoring 60-year-old contestant LeRoy Bell, suggesting that he could do a lot better with the soulful crooner. This drew “ooohs” from the crowd and a glare from Scherzinger. But the matter was far from over. During the commercial break, Scherzinger got out of her chair and directly into Cowell’s face. At one point even slapping the desk.

When asked what she said, Scherzinger wouldn’t comment. She did, however, throw a barb back at Cowell, “Oh he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s just a bunch of talk.”

Given the chance to explain his side of the story after the show, Cowell offered a response one might expect of him.

“I wasn’t even listening. All I could see was this really angry face,” he says. “I thought it was funny.”

As for his former “American Idol” foil, Paula Abdul, Cowell had nothing but praise for her performance.

“Paula has done a good job by proving she’s not a ditzy judge. She can actually work with artists and she really proved a point tonight,” he says.

A backhanded compliment from Simon is probably about as good as one can expect.

The fun continues next week when the fans begin to vote.

Posted by:David Eckstein