The Pussycat Dolls singer, 39, opened up about her friendship with Rylan Clark-Neal at The X Factor press day, revealing just how close the pair have remained.
She explained: “Rylan has got a great personality.
“He didn’t have the best voice, but I believed in him and he had star quality in other areas.
“He had a personality and he’s very successful today.”
Nicole then added: “Where’s my percentage, people? I’m not joking.”
Nicole added that she is still chummy with Rylan, with the pair swapping messages regularly.
“We’ve not missed a beat, we still WhatsApp every single day,” she revealed, adding she also messages runner-up Jahmene Douglas and James Arthur all the time.
Long-serving judge Louis Walsh chipped in: “Every time I turn on the TV, Rylan’s on it.
“We don’t call them joke acts, we call them different and personality-driven acts. I think there could be a very different type of act this year.”
As well as Rylan’s burgeoning television career, Nicole also claims responsibility for the success of X Factor comeback kid James Arthur, who won the show in 2012 and made a return to the spotlight in 2016 after a string of controversies.
Speaking about his fave X Factor moment, host Dermot O’Leary explained: “James was the first winner we had that came as part of the new federation of X Factor, and who stayed very much true to the artist he wanted to be.
“He’d been knocking on the door for a while of his own home town, and we gave him that platform.”
Louis added: “Nicole worked so hard, and she doesn’t get a lot of the credit for James Arthur.”
“I mean, can I have one per cent?” Nicole cheekily asked.
The X Factor returns tomorrow at 8pm on ITV.