Cheryl Cole's still a good friend, says Simon Cowell

X Factor boss Simon Cowell hopes he is still "close friends" with Cheryl Cole after dropping her from the US version of the show.

He said he took "full responsibility" for the decision to replace Cole with former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger on the judging panel.

It was reported Cole had lost the job last month - only three weeks after she was first given it.

That led to feverish press speculation about her next career move and the state of her relationship with Cowell.

He told the Daily Mirror he was worried the Newcastle-born star was "uncomfortable" in America and offered to give her a place back in the UK show which would have earned her around £2.5 million.

When she refused that, Cowell said he offered to take her back to America but she again turned him down.

He said: "The hardest thing to accept is that everyone has painted me as a monster because I embarrassed her, but the truth was I was protecting her. I just want people to be in the best place at the right time."

Cowell said he had received a text from Cole saying she felt let down but understood the decision.

He said: "We are close friends. I still hope we are but sometimes when you're that close, when you're making these decisions with someone's life, you have to be certain."

American TV bosses confirmed yesterday there was no chance of a return to the judging panel on the show for Cole.

A statement released on behalf of the show's makers Fox, Fremantle Media North America and Syco TV confirmed she will be replaced by Scherzinger.

It said: "Nicole will join Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid and Paula Abdul on their search across America to find the next global superstar or group to win the life-changing five million dollar recording deal.

"Nicole has previously joined Simon Cowell as a guest judge on The X Factor for the UK version of the show in 2010. Steve Jones will act as sole host of The X Factor."