Simon Cowell "didn't have a clue" who was being lined up for 'The X Factor: Celebrity'.
The music mogul is getting ready to launch a revamped version of his hugely popular ITV singing competition with the likes of Megan McKenna, Ricki Lane and a 'Love Island' supergroup competing, but he told producers not to let him know who had signed up.
He said: "It just felt so obvious to do a celebrity version. The only condition was I couldn't know who was going to be on it. I said to the team, 'You've got to find some acts who you believe can sell records off the back of this, because if you don't do that it won't work.'
"So that was the deal and we stuck to it. I swear to God I didn't have a clue who any of the acts were. I did walk away thinking, 'If we're smart, we have artists here who could actually sell records off the back of this'. So I thought that was fun and very exciting for the show."
Despite being kept in the dark about the line-up for the special series of the talent show, the 59-year-old judge - who is joined on the panel by Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger - was delighted by the passion of the contestants.
He added: "I tell you what, I was really surprised and happy about how much they cared about being on the show.
"With the celebrities, they really wanted it, I felt that if they bring that energy to the show and hopefully we can do our job, which is to help them make some great records, you know, we've got some really good artists on our hands."