Last week rumors hit the ’net that Nicki Minaj was in talks to become a judge on the American version of Simon Cowell’s upcoming TV show The X Factor. XXLMag.com got the opportunity to speak to Mr. Cowell himself to find out if the gossip is true.

“We spoke to Nicki actually about a lot of projects,” he told XXLMag.com. “It wasn’t specifically about this, but we were just very interested to meet her. I’m a big fan of hers. So I don’t know if it’s gonna be this show or something in the future, but it was definitely somebody I wanted to meet.”

“Off her own back she’s had a phenomenal year last year and she’s gonna have a phenomenal year this year,” he added about Minaj’s success. “She’s very smart, very influential, very bright and along with artists like Jessie J. You can’t ignore them and sooner or later they have to be in our world and we have to be in their world.”

As previously reported, Antonio “L.A.” Reid recently stepped down as chairman of Island Def Jam to become a judge on the show come September. Cowell hopes L.A. will help attract more aspiring hip-hop and R&B artists to the competition. He also said he is currently in talks with another personality from the rap world to bring onto the show.

Auditions for The X Factor are set to begin on Sunday, March 27 in Los Angeles at the L.A. Sports Arena. The search for the next global superstar will continue in Miami, FL, on Thursday, April 7; Newark, NJ, on Thursday, April 14; Seattle, WA, on Wednesday, April 20; Chicago, IL, on Wednesday, April 27; and Dallas, TX, on Thursday, May 26. The show is searching for undiscovered talent 12 years old or over – both solo artists and vocal groups - who are willing to brave the panel for a chance to win a $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. Interested solo artists and vocal groups should sign up now for audition information at www.fox.com/theXfactor or call toll-free 855-345-5678. —Jesse Gissen