Cowell also says Spears, Jackson are in judges' mix

While the question of who will be at the judges’ table for the second season of “The X Factor” remains a mystery, two things are certain: Both those new judges will be women and hosting duties on the show will handled by two people.

So said Simon Cowell during a conference call Wednesday to promote the upcoming auditions for the Fox musical competition series.

In looking to replace recently fired judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, Cowell wouldn’t deny that Britney Spears and Janet Jackson have been put in the mix, but so have many others.

“We will meet with a number of people over the next few weeks,” he said. “There is loads of speculation. There are a lot more people who have entered the fray this year. We wanted to see who would contact us before we contact people. That’s a good place to be.”

When asked about whether the late Whitney Houston might have been a candidate to be a judge, current judge L.A. Reid said: “We would have considered it but it never quite came to that. We never actually had meetings about it.”

Cowell also addressed his preseason boasting on “The X Factor” ratings. For its debut season, the show averaged 12.7 million viewers and a 4.4 rating in the 18-49 demo in its Wednesday telecasts, and 12.6 million and a 4.2 for Thursdays.

While those numbers were healthy, they were far below what Cowell had expected.

“We were coming off a massive year with 20 million in the U.K. and I should have keep my mouth shut,” he said.

However, he wasn’t backing down in his expectations for the coming fall season and the show’s second go-around.

“For every show I’ve been on, it grows over the years. I absolutely expect the second season to do better than the first.”

As for who will replace Steve Jones as host, Cowell said the job has become too big for one person and that a man and woman will share the emcee responsibilities for the new season.

“What we learned is that because you have so much information to deliver, it’s almost impossible for one person. It’s more fun way to do it with two people. It’s a different chemistry. I’ve always wanted a boy and a girl and that will definitely happen.”

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