‘X Factor’ Fiasco: Simon Admits Britney Broke Down, Amid Report of His Own Meltdown

Simon Cowell (Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

The drama factor is upstaging “The X Factor,” just days before the Fox singing competition is set to make its highly hyped second-season debut.

While it’s been widely reported that new judge Britney Spears had been on the verge of a breakdown since filming began earlier this summer, now comes word that the show’s driving force Simon Cowell also had his own “secret meltdown.”

So says the U.K.’s The Sun in an article Sunday, claiming Cowell “suffered a devastating collapse” earlier this summer over professional pressures.

Cowell, the former face of “American Idol” who’s used to being on top, is desperate to compete with rival reality competitions — most notably, NBC’s stealth singing show “The Voice” — and the intense pressure got to him. Take these recent reports, for instance, claiming Cowell is fuming over NBC’s positioning a third night of “The Voice” against “The X Factor” premiere on Wednesday night — forcing a battle of the blonde pop tartlets between Spears and her rival, “Voice” coach Christina Aguilera.

The Sun claims a strained Simon took a time out with a three-week break to recover from “nervous exhaustion,” according to author Tom Bower, who’s written a book about the British music/TV mogul.

“I desperately need peace. I’m craving normality. I’ve got to work out my demons and come out of it,” Cowell, 52, is quoted telling a pal, as he allegedly secluded himself and stayed in his bed for a week-long spell to decompress and disconnect from the world.

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Adding to the judge’s woes, no doubt, was the worry over the his high-profile (and high-priced — she’s reportedly earning $15 million) new judge, Britney Spears. Over the weekend, Cowell finally admitted to TMZ that the reports that a fragile Britney walked off the show when filming began were, in fact, true.

Cowell revealed that Spears nearly quit after her first day on the job after having a panic attack, despite denying the rampant reports of Britney’s bizarre behavior at the time.

“No one is going to admit that on the first day your highest paid star after 20 minutes has walked off set,” Cowell said to TMZ. “She did have a moment on the first day where she said to me, ‘I’m not sure I can do this.'”

Simon convinced her to stick around, and eventually Brit found her groove — and allegedly gives the original Judge Dread a run for his money in the mean department.

Season 2 of “The X Factor” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 12 on Fox.

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