Simon Cowell has publicly apologised to any X Factor viewers who are feeling misled after last week’s sing-off.

The apology came at the final press conference of this year’s X Factor series, but the pop mogul continued to deny that the competition is rigged.

Allegations that show bosses were trying to fix the results by having the judges vote in a last-minute, surprise sing-off to to keep the most commercial artists in the competition, arose after Sunday’s show.

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The sing-off took place after host Dermot O’Leary had told viewers that the public vote would decide the acts going through to the final show, with no mention of the judges voting too.

“I watched the tape back and if we misled people it wasn’t intentional,” Cowell explained.

“What Dermot said was that you’ve got to vote these people in, we didn’t say there was going to be a sing-off. Essentially, the same rules apply.’”

 “There was never any fix. All these guys knew they were going to be in a sing-off,” he insisted.

Sunday’s surprise sing-off resulted in in Dublin singer Mary Byrne being booted off the competition, while Cher Lloyd snatched the fourth final spot.