"Nicole is completely genuine," insists fellow judge and X Factor producer Simon Cowell. "By that I mean, she's the same dithering emotional wreck in her everyday life that she is on the show. I mean, really."Cowell cites an incident in Starbucks prior to a recent taping. "She couldn't decide between a Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade and a Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light," Cowell recalled.
"I can't make this decision," Cowell recalled a teary Scherzinger saying, before she made her way behind the counter to hug the barista.
"I had to tell her, please, Nicole, there are people waiting for their bloody coffee," says Cowell. "Since then I just send my servant to get my espresso."
The scene was of course reminiscent of the recent X Factor episode where an emotional Scherzinger used her vote to create a deadlock between performers Marcus Canty and Rachel Crow, eventually resulting in viewers voting Crow - an emotionally unstable 13-year-old special needs child - off the show.
Scherzinger said at the time, between jags of crying and rending her sheer, clingy garments, that she couldn't make the decision because she'd "been up there and I know how it feels." Scherzinger scholars say she was probably referring to an incident that happened to her in 1992, when she was 14.
"It was down to Nicole and one other girl for the top prize in the Louisville Singing In Garters Competition," recalled Karl Munson, then-president of the Louisville, Ky. Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the contest. "When they announced the other girl's name, Nicole broke down uncontrollably.
"She was curled up in a ball on the stage, and you could see the tears pooling up on the top of her bustier," said Munson. "It was very awkward."
But many believe that experience fueled her determination and helped her eventually land a spot as lead singer for the Pussycat Dolls, where she got to sing in garters in front of all of America. Famous for its dynamic live shows, the group was known for ending concerts with a sobbing, lingerie-clad Scherzinger hugging every single member of the audience.