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X Factor supremo Simon Cowell says sorry to ex-One Direction star Zayn Malik

(Image credit: PA WIRE)

The X Factor judge Simon Cowell has apologised for poking fun at singer Zayn Malik at a recent awards ceremony which was held in his honour.

The pop guru has insisted the ‘snub’ was only meant as a joke. He shocked everyone after he accepted his gong from One Direction and then humiliated their former bandmate - who left the boy band in March - by saying he would do just as well as their fifth member.

(Image credit: PA WIRE)

The awards were held in London and Simon was speaking out as One Directioners Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Liam Payne stood behind him. "Guys, who misses Zayn?” he quipped. “We all get old but I've still got charisma."

But less than a week later, the 56-year-old has issued an apology after receiving a deluge of complaints from Zayn’s fans. He admitted the joke had fallen flat.

(Image credit: PA WIRE)

"I just kind of thought when I was standing on stage with them, that they were back to being five, and I saw myself [being a part of] One Direction for a moment," he told a US radio show.

"That's when I made that quip, ‘Who Needs Zayn?' which of course backfired hugely. So I apologise to any Zayn fans out there – it was meant as a joke."

Watch The X Factor tonight on ITV at 8pm