You seem very busy, even by your standards. The Olympic closing ceremony, the launch of the Spice Girls musical and, of course, The X Factor.
Yeah, we've kind of had a bit of a whirlwind for the last five, six weeks. Me, my husband and our kids have been all over the place, from London to Germany to Oslo to Paris to Ibiza to LA and now back in New York. It's been pretty crazy and fun.
You've got your team of six X Factor contestants there with you?
I just did three days with them, with my brilliant guest judge, and I just chose my top three contestants. When you have such a good line-up of six, it's always hard to halve them to three. So I was up last night going ''Oh my god! Which one do I choose? Is that going to be OK?'' I do 12-hour days with my contestants, I'm very involved, I'm very present and focused. I give it my all because I thoroughly believe that they are the next international superstar and I can hopefully help with that.
Does it get worse with the finals?
I eat, breathe and sleep The X Factor once those live shows start, because I want to make sure that I'm making the right song choices, that they're wearing the right clothes. I'm in on every single rehearsal. They have my cellphone number, they can call me whenever. I'm very there.
There's always speculation about how much producers in talent shows try to manipulate judge's selections behind the scenes.
Who said that? No one tells me what to do. With The X Factor, as a judge, you have every right and every power and passion inside you to make your decision. No. I am what I am. Nobody produces me. I just did three days on the UK X Factor because Simon Cowell asked me. He said, ''I need your honesty. Just go in there and be yourself.'' I'm not the kind of person who can be anything but [myself].
How do you find the auditions?
Sometimes I find those funny and sometimes I find them annoying. It's a long day. About a 10-hour day. We don't have many breaks. You're seeing talent after talent after talent. Some good, some really not so good and some comical. Then you find those gems that are amazing.
Are you surprised to still find new talent?
Not at all. I think it's great. This year there's more talent then ever, way more than last year. They dropped the age limit, so you've got a whole young kind of vibe going on. The kids have been watching it and can't wait until they become the right age to actually join in. Then you've got the ones where they've been egged on by their mum or egged on by their friend. And then you've just got those people who go ''I watched it last season and I can do that.''
Do you ever get challenged by the stage mums?
Yeah. Backstage sometimes you get the contestants' mums going ''you should have put her through'' or ''why did you say that to my daughter?'' and I just find that funny. You're already up on stage. Not everything every judge is going to say you're going to like, unless you're amazing. So you've just got to be prepared for that. Back in the day when I used to do three or four auditions a day, I would say to myself ''somebody's going to say something I don't like and I've just got to take it'', and that's it, constructive criticism, turn it around into a positive and work on myself.
Do you pass on that advice?
The thing is with me, I know first-hand how hard it is. The Spice Girls, we put ourselves together. So I know what it takes to be up there, and stay up there, and want it that bad.
So you look for hunger in the contestants?
Yeah. First of all they have to be talented but they have to really want it, because there's no point being talented and just thinking, ''Huh, I can do whatever.'' You have to be dedicated and focused, because to be an artist it takes up your whole life.
The X Factor
Seven, Mon-Wed, 7.30pm