"The X Factor's" results show Thursday night certainly had its share of surprises -- in particular, the revelation that country singer Tate Stevens leads the pack of remaining talent in the top 12.
The one most blindsided by the news, however, was show producer and judge Simon Cowell, who voiced his befuddlement in a post-show interview with journalists.
“I thought my acts were doing much better than what was revealed tonight, so we do have to change a few things up,” he said.
Cowell revealed that it was his call to return ousted contestant Diamond White to the stage, a decision that was favorable for Britney Spears. He also was not surprised by the last-place finish of Jason Brock.
"I never believed he had a cat in hell's chance of winning," said the quotable Brit. "He is what he is -- a nice guy, a cabaret singer -- but he does not have the X factor."
Cowell also was confounded about his miscalculation that Emblem3 would finish atop the leader board.
"My acts are going to need a big confidence boost," he said. "Sometimes when you have a record out, you think you're going to go in at No. 1 but you go in at No. 8. So your second record has to be better. That's how I treat it."
Cowell shared his thoughts about the big change to reveal contestant rankings, as well as what it was like to watch the series' success story, One Direction, perform for the first time in front of the seasoned judge since their time on the British version of "X Factor."
Tell us about the ranking decision. Was that a huge thing to do?
I suggested this about three or four weeks ago. I said what might be interesting is the one thing everyone wants to know -- including me -- every week, is who won. So I said, "What if we just tell everyone, then see what happens?"
As creator and one of the executive producers of the show, it’s hard to believe you didn't know the order already.
You know, even last year I had no idea.
Last year we had that great Rachel Crow moment that came out of nowhere. Do you think showing the results will take away from that, the surprise moment?
I don't know, I think we should try for a couple of weeks, and we can always bring it back in. Certainly it's the right thing to do this week because now we know where we stand. Particularly for someone like Beatrice Miller, and perhaps Arin Ray, who may have been thinking they were doing much better than they were. They have to change their game plan now.
What was the biggest surprise for you out of that?
I would say Emblem3 not doing better. I thought they would have been top three. But I said this about the U.K. show. When the U.K. show finished, we published the vote results and I thought One Direction was winning every week. We never won a single week. If I had known earlier on, I would have made a change.
They said this was the first time they had performed in front of you since 'The X Factor.'
It was a blast. Just to see how far they have come and remembering how they were formed in the first place. It could easily been that we said goodbye to them as individuals, but we took a risk with them and they took the opportunity and … now look where they are. I think it was a good example for the other contestants on the show that if you do well on the shows, you can have a massive career when the show ends if you’re smart.
Who do you think has changed the most since the first time you watched them perform?
Zayn Malik. He definitely has more confidence and was the shy one in the group. In fact, he nearly didn't make it on one of the boot camp days. I had to drag him from the back of the auditorium and say, "You are going to do this." He was about to walk out. He was just so shy. So to see him, it's a big difference.
Are there more surprises in store besides the ranking?
I don't think we can bring anyone else back. But the ranking thing is something we will consider week on week, if we do it or not. It was the right thing to do tonight. And it has pissed me off.