Be show changes? New judges? What's next for the hit show

By Lorenzo Benet
Updated December 27, 2011 11:00 AM
Credit: Ian Derry/FOX

With Melanie Amaro just crowned this season’s winner, auditions are already underway for next season’s The X Factor – and contestants and viewers should prepare themselves for a few possible changes.

“Can we make the show better? Yes. I will never ever go into anything going forward unless I can believe I can make it better,” Simon Cowell, the show’s producer and judge, told PEOPLE Thursday after Amaro had won the $5 million recording contract. “Next year will be a bloodbath. We have to come out with something better than the rest, and that’s what we aim to do.”

While Cowell was mum on specifics, he said in the next week he plans to sit down back in the U.K. with the X Factor brain trust, which will also get input from sponsors and the FOX network before any decisions are made regarding the show in 2012.

There has also been some chatter from critics and fans about the show’s toning down the production numbers, which often distract with the multiple dancers, choirs, lighting and head-spinning backdrops.

“It’ll be successful if you are open to tweaking things,” said Paula Abdul. “I understand pros and cons of the value of having these big production numbers, but … I am a fan of less is more.”

A lot is up in the air regarding the talent, too. Will Steve Jones be back as host? Will L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger return as mentors and judges?

The only sure thing for the moment: Abdul told PEOPLE she’ll be back, “unless something weird and bizarre happens.”

Reid also said he’s all set for another go around. “I would love to come back – what I don’t like is, I love it so much. I don’t control it, it’s up to the boss.”

Host Jones is also on board if asked to return. “I look forward to working with the judges again,” he says.

So far, the lone judge ambivalent about returning is Scherzinger, who said at a press conference Monday that she found the contestant elimination process emotionally trying and “something I could have never prepared for.”

During media interviews later in the week, she talked enthusiastically about returning to her recording career next month. The show “took a lot out of me,” she said. “I’m an artist first, not a judge. At the beginning of next year, I’m focusing on my album and going on tour in Europe.”