By James Hibberd
Updated August 01, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Nini Munoz/Fox
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If the TV industry tom-toms have it right, this fall will be the last season of Fox’s The X Factor if the singing competition continues its downward ratings trend.

With Factor‘s judges panel being overhauled for the third time, the new season has Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio replacing last year’s Britney Spears and L.A. Reid, with executive producer/judge Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato continuing forward.

Since Fox’s American Idol is also in a ratings tailspin (albeit at a loftier level), some have wondered if Cowell might end up back on his old show if Factor is cancelled after season 3.

“I can’t imagine either scenario,” Cowell told TV critics at a conference on Thursday when asked about the hypothetical situation. “I can’t. I just can’t do that. No. Somebody once said, ‘Know when to leave the fair.’ Most importantly, I’ve always believed if you make great TV shows, people will watch them.”

Cowell also disagreed with The Voice coach Adam Levine, who told critics earlier this week that his NBC hit doesn’t necessarily need to create new pop stars.

“No show can survive without that,” Cowell said. “You’re making a promise to the contestant that you’re going to try to turn them into a real-life artist. Otherwise it’s a game show. This is the most serious thing I do. Not so much within the competition, but outside the competition. What we’ve proven over the years is [Factor UK] has had a incredible track record. It’s why we make the show.”

Cowell expressed optimism about this fall’s revamped panel, and said he shook up the judges once again because Factor was feeling stale. “I felt what were doing was similar to what everybody else was doing. And I felt this impatience to get into season 3 and do what I wanted to do.”

Episode Recaps

The X Factor

Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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