London-The auditions have only just begun, but the gloves could already be off between Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger after it’s been reported the Pussycat Doll secured £125k more.

Nicole, 37, was said to have swung the massive pay deal of £1.8 million to return to the panel and bring the glamour to the ITV talent show, while Sharon, 63, is said to be getting £1.7 million.

A source told The Mirror: ‘Sharon stipulated that she had to be the highest paid judge other than Simon [Cowell] on the panel. But what she doesn’t know is that Nicole is set to pocket an extra £125,000.’

Despite her bumper pay deal, Nicole, who was a judge in 2012 - when her contestant James Arthur won - and again in 2013, has discovered her return to X Factor hasn’t been without drama.

The actress dropped out of her role as Grizabella in the Broadway revival of Cats for the job, which is where it’s thought the extra incentive has come in.

The Don’t Cha hit-maker certainly seemed to be back in her stride already on Friday when she put a futuristic spin on a red suit and made her triumphant return to the first day of auditions in Leicester.

Sharing her excitement on getting the job, she explained: ‘I can’t wait to be back in the UK and on the show with the best judges sitting alongside me on the panel. I’m excited about discovering, mentoring and winning with an exciting new act this year. And having had winning contestants in the past, Simon knows I will do it.’

Nevertheless, Nicole was criticised for her decision to leave the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber who said he was ‘furious’ with the singer for letting him down.

Talking to Anne McElvoy, from The Economist, he said: ‘A week before we were due to go into rehearsals with Cats, which luckily I’m not producing I have to say, she calls me and says she’s decided to do X Factor, having agreed to it.