Simon Cowell said the Red or Black £1 million prize winner Nathan Hageman who was jailed for battering his ex should give his victim the cash.

Simon said: "It's embarrassing and it's put us in a horrible position.

"I'd like him to give the money back but I'm not in a position to force anybody to do anything. That's why he got the money — it's his own conscience what he decides to do with it.

"If I was him I know what I'd do — I'd give away the money to the person he had the altercation with and a charity. I would do it."

Nathan Hageman, 31, was jailed for five years for assaulting his ex, Amy Edwards, but he lied about his crime, saying that he'd beaten up a man instead.

Although ITV received calls from angry viewers saying that Hageman shouldn't receive the money, the channel said their "hands were tied" as they hadn't carried out adequate background checks on contestants.

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Cowell said: "On the night, like everyone else, I thought he was a decent guy. I thought this is all great. Then, 24 hours later… not so great."

He added: "I haven't spoken to him since Saturday."

"The show was intended to give normal people who need some financial help the chance to win a million.

"I thought, naively, that the timing was right and that the mood of the country was going to get this show, that we wouldn't have any controversy for once.

"The whole premise of the show was it was rather like the lottery with better odds."

He added: "I sat there on the first night in my dressing room and was thrilled to bits that this guy won. We didn't know what we know now.

"Whatever checks were done either weren't done properly or weren't relayed to us. It wasn't done with any malice or to trick anyone.

"I remember when people went nuts when certain people won the lottery. It's not something you want to happen. We did deal with it as quickly as possible.

"But it put us in a horrible position. All we wanted to do was to give the money to someone who deserved it and needed some help, which luckily it did on the second night."

He added: "All our shows are British exports and we're very proud of that. But I will change things.

"The response we've had from the public is that they like the show. We were right to do the show, I naively thought there wouldn't be any controversy. But we want to see people win a million quid.

"My relationship with ITV is still good, they've been very supportive and I expect to see this show's in a year's time. That's the goal.

"I don't want to sound like Robin Hood here but I try to make the winners of our shows better off.

"They're supposed to be good news shows."