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SPECIAL GEST; X FACTOR EXCLUSIVE Bosses want I'm A Celeb Dave to be the new Louis.

Byline: By EVA SIMPSON and LOUISA PILBEAM

X FACTOR bosses believe outspoken David Gest is the right man to spice up the show they feared was in danger of becoming dreary.

They have lined up the 53-year-old Californian to take over from judge Louis Walsh who was branded "boring" and axed along with co-star Kate Thornton.

The I'm A Celebrity star is said to be in advanced negotiations with ITV who are desperate to get him to sign on the dotted line.

An insider said: "Talks are well under way and ITV chiefs think David is just what the show needs to give it a new kick. It's just a case of sorting out money and scheduling.

"David was a real hit on I'm A Celeb... so they already know how popular he is with the audience. Simon Cowell wants someone who would bring some fresh humour to the show and David is such a character.

"He knows David will be someone who knows what he's talking about. He also wants someone with strong views who isn't afraid to speak their mind and David's that man."

It is hoped 53-year-old Gest - once married to Liza Minnelli - will join Simon, fellow judge Sharon Osbourne and another mystery panellist for this summer's new series.

Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, 31, is favourite to replace 34-year-old Thornton.

Gest certainly has the right credentials to be an X Factor judge. He managed Liza, is best friends with Michael Jackson and rubs shoulders with music's elite.

He has gone from strength to strength since coming fourth in jungle reality show I'm A Celeb... last November.

And he so impressed ITV bigwigs that he's been given his own prime time Sunday night slot, The David Gest Show, which will launch this year with a pounds 1million ad campaign.

Gest has also signed a pounds 1million book deal to spill the beans on his decades in showbiz.

And if all that wasn't enough, he'll be a panellist on ITV1's Cowell-produced Grease Is The Word, a reality show to fill the parts of Danny and Sandy for a new West End production opening in the summer.

Gest's appointment is unlikely to please Louis, 54, who was dumped even though he insisted it was his decision to quit the programme.

Cowell has revealed he was forced to re-vamp the show to pump up flagging ratings.

He said: "ITV wanted to make changes. They likened it to Coronation Street.

"You have to change and add to the cast every couple of years. It's how you keep a show successful."

eva.simpson@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

IN? ITV bosses want Gest as judge; OUT OUT Kate and Louis with Simon; IN? Konnie's favourite to land Kate job
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 13, 2007
Words:457
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