Simon Cowell was doubly devastated upon hearing news of Whitney Houston's death on Saturday (11Feb12) as he had hoped to hire her for The X Factor.
The superstar singer was found dead in her hotel room in Los Angeles, just two days before Cowell was due to host a meeting to discuss giving her a job on the reality TV show.
Cowell, who recently axed Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger from the judging panel, has revealed he heard rumours Houston would be interested in joining the upcoming second series and he had scheduled talks on Monday (13Feb12) with network bosses at Fox.
He tells CNN's Piers Morgan, "The rumours that had got back to us... and that's often what happens when people want to be on these shows, you know, somebody tells someone to get the word out, it's normally a sign that they are interested... We were ironically going to meet on Monday and of course one of the names we were going to be talking about in that meeting as a possible mentor on the new series of X Factor was actually going to be Whitney Houston.
"I have no idea genuinely whether she really was that interested or whether she would have (signed up)... Given the choice, I would have liked to have taken her under my wing as well, because she would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on the show."
Cowell also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the late star, admitting he feels "absolutely devastated" by her sudden death.
He adds, "Whitney - ever since I've been doing this job, particularly doing talent shows over the last 10 years - (was) the number one singer anyone ever wanted to emulate, if they really wanted to be a superstar, it was always Whitney. We would hear Whitney songs over and over again. She was the benchmark, she truly was...
"You're going to remember where you were when you heard the news. It's that significant... I am absolutely devastated by this news. I am so sad for her. She was one of the greatest superstars of all time, one of the greatest voices in our life time we're likely ever to hear. To hear this news, it really, really, really upset me."