IF anyone can justify an X Factor sob story its Louis Walsh.
The Irish judge has been axed twice, mentors the worst categories and was robbed in the 2008 final when Alexandra Burke was handed victory on a plate after being awarded a duet with global superstar Beyonce, while his boyband JLS got Westlife.
But that hasnt put Louis off returning once again for the brand new celebrity version of the ITV talent contest, alongside former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and his old sparring partner Simon Cowell.
Talking of his comeback in an exclusive interview with The Sun, he said: Simon has tried this before and it didnt work but this feels like a completely new show and he may not want to admit it but deep down he knew he needed me back.
He always realises in the end. I think he doesnt like the fact Ive had less plastic surgery than him, and me being on the panel is a constant reminder.
But even his son wanted me back. Simon phoned me and said Eric told him, Can you bring back Uncle Louis?
So what does Louis think of his replacements last year Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field?
He said: Robbie was a great booking. He is brilliant and so funny and with him and Simon it should have been amazing. But you needed the right two people in between.
On Ayda, who sat alongside fellow one-season wonder Louis Tomlinson, he added: Most people just didnt know her, and the ITV audience have to know you.
She was thrown in at the deep end and shes a very funny woman, and theyre a great couple together, they really are. Theyre like soul mates, but I just dont think the public warmed to it.
Ayda certainly gets a soft ride compared to his his 2015 replacement, Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw. Louis, 67, said: Nick Grimshaw? Oh my God, lets not go there, Ive forgotten about it. That was not a good booking. No, no.
The panel for the celebrity series has only three judges, compared to the traditional four. Louis said he would have loved Sharon Osbourne to complete his dream line-up but her signing was unlikely, given her huge fallout with Simon.
Mrs O, 67, went ballistic after being axed for the last series for calling Simon a f***ing pain in the a*** during an ill-judged interview.
She also referred to contestants on the show as f***ing karaoke.
But Louis believes he can one day get the pair talking again. He said: Sharon and Simon are like two queen bees in the same pod.
They are so similar and they get on well but say things about each other behind their backs. But its not badness, its just fun. Shell have a go at him, hell have a go at her, and thats it.
X Factor boss Simon, 60, has overhauled his lifestyle since he last sat with Louis on the show, becoming a vegan, cutting down on alcohol and starting a strict exercise regime which has led to a dramatic weight loss.
As a result, Louis said that Simon has got his mojo back and looks better than ever, but he insisted hell never accept his offer of a visit to his favourite cosmetic surgeon.
He said: Ill never go down the Botox route. I swear to God, never, ever. I want to look like me, I dont want the alien look, like every American, with big eyes and the white teeth.
The only thing Ive had done is my hair and the bags under my eyes taken away. It just makes you look like youve had a good sleep, and you have to do these things for high-definition TV.
Now you have bigger TVs, better quality, you can see everything. Thats why everyone on TV is doing it.
In this increasingly sensitive age, Simon has softened his punchy critique on TV but Louis is adamant he wont shy away from giving damning feedback on contestants, which has been a huge part of the series since it began in 2004.
And that is despite calls from TV watchdogs and former contestants to show more empathy to audition hopefuls.
Louis said: I dont care about that. I honestly like to let them down easy but the public see through it, the public is not stupid. Theyre watching at home so we cant put somebody through if theyre not good enough.
Were just told to be ourselves and pretend were in the real world, as Simon says, because thats what its like in auditions you have a load of people, most of whom are not going to get through. Sometimes I give them the benefit of the doubt and they can get better. But if they dont get better, you only get one chance.
He added: Weve never been told to tone down what we say by anyone at ITV.
And Louis has already shown he is as feisty as ever with his brutal verdict on former Strictly dancer Brendan Cole and actor Jeremy Edwards, who failed their audition as a double act for the new series.
He said: Honestly, it looked good on paper but then they started singing. Because they thought people knew them they believed they could just turn up and go through. But they were both unprepared, with no oomph and noXfactor. They just werent good enough very simple.
The X Factor: Celebrity is Simons latest bid to shake up a show in dire need of a revamp. Ratings have struggled against the juggernaut that is BBC1s Strictly and the fact that copycat shows such as The Voice have come along and vacuumed up talent in an already limited pool.
Indeed, Louis said there is even a shortage of novelty acts like Irish twins Jedward and Brazilian drummer Wagner who he famously championed when the series was attracting nearly 20 million viewers.
He said: We ran out of them because they are very rare, theyre very different You cant invent these people, theyve got to walk in through the door and be so deluded about themselves. Its like, Do they really think they can sing? Yes they do, and thats why everybody loved them and loved to hate them. They made fantastic TV. Theyre the ones you remember more than some of the winners.
Louis has a point, as many recent winners havent exactly set the world alight, and he thinks the latest generation of young wannabes are more interested in collecting Instagram likes than putting in the work to be pop stars.
He said: A lot are lazy and want to be in the fame game. I much prefer the music game. People get on the show, they come from nowhere, theyre from a small village somewhere, and everybody is loving them on Instagram and Twitter and they think theyre made.
But its somebody else the following year, I always tell them that dont believe the hype about yourself.
Since Instagram came in, theyre very good at promoting themselves. Theres a lot of part-time pop stars out there.
For the first time in his X Factor career he has been in 13 of its 15 series Louis has been given a strong category, the Unders, for the celeb series.
They are the youngest solo contestants, with mass appeal to The X Factors target audience, aged 16 to 34, which the show attracts in larger numbers than Strictly.
On his books are reality TV personality and wannabe country singer Megan McKenna, former EastEnders actor Jonny Labey, Glees Kevin McHale and Love Actually actress Olivia Olson.
Megan is the bookies favourite and Louis is confident he will get his first X Factor win since he guided Shayne Ward to glory in 2005.
He said: Talent-wise, yes, its the best group. Megan is one definitely to watch. Shes good. But its all about personality as well.
Martin Bashir and Vinnie Jones people might just love them and want to vote for them, likewise Jenny Ryan from The Chase. You dont know, the public might just fall in love and back somebodys personality because they liked them.
And if anyone knows the valueof the likeability factor, its Louis.
Louis’ verdict on novelty acts
“THEY were so brilliant, so different and so entertaining. When they did Britney and Under Pressure by Queen, it was just amazing.
“Theres been nobody like them since, and theres probably a reason for it.
“Theyre very unique, different and funny. They had a great, great career. It was short, but a great career.”
Same Difference, 2007
“THEY were a bit odd for a brother and sister, but they didnt see it.
“They just thought they were educating and fun and smiley, and they were smiley and happy all the time and thats not a bad thing.
“Theyre not your usual X Factor act, and I like it when theyre just a little different.”
“NO matter what I asked him to sing, he would sing it and perform any mash-up.
“He thought he was a rock star, and thats what I loved about him.
“He was always positive, he was so happy to be there.
“It wasnt karaoke, it was just wow.
Diva Fever, 2010
“I DIDNT care about them. It was too contrived, it wasnt real.
“They got knocked out early, thats all can remember.
“There wasnt much to them and the public didnt warm to them either and that was a huge problem for them.”
“I LOVED Rylan. He used the show as a platform for his talent now hes on TV every day for something.
“Hes not the best singer in the world, but a great personality, a great worker, clever, intelligent and he used his spot on the show so well.”
The X Factor: Celebrity is on ITV tonight at 8.20pm