By Lindsey Bahr
Updated October 01, 2013 at 05:47 PM EDT
Credit: Nino Munoz/FOX
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For Simon Cowell, the ratings game is simple. “If it’s good, the ratings will go up. If it’s terrible they’ll go down,” the reality mogul told EW.

The X Factor’s third season got off to a rocky start, hitting a new ratings low with its season premiere and continuing to disappoint. Cowell isn’t worried, though, and sees the dip as part of the cycle that all shows must endure. “You’ve just got to do what we’ve always done over the year for these shows,” he said. “You have your high moments, you have your dips, and you roll your sleeves up and do something better than everyone else is doing.” That high moment, he hopes, could be the new Four Chair Challenge, airing Wednesday on Fox.

“It had to be something that we hadn’t done before,” Cowell said of the new element where only four out of 10 performers will advance in each category. To add drama to the competition, he kept it a secret from the audience and the performers till the day they filmed.

Cowell previewed a 20-minute clip of the show and teased that judge Paulina Rubio makes a “big mistake” in her decisions with the boys category. “We all had ideas of who we wanted to put through, and in the end we just made it up as we went along,” he said. “We shot it as if it were a live show, so we weren’t allowed the time to go ‘oh, I can’t make my mind up, what do you guys think?’ The judges had to make their minds up then and there.”

There was one wild card that Cowell and his co-judges didn’t quite anticipate. “The audience realized very quickly that they had a lot of control. It was a lot of fun.”

Episode Recaps

The X Factor

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