Demi Lovato is one smart cookie.
When she met with Simon Cowell to discuss becoming a judge/mentor on the second season of The X Factor, the first thing she said was, "You're much better looking in real life."
In other words, the 20-year-old Dallas native knows how to butter up the boss when the job is on the line.
Cowell was also impressed that Lovato, a platinum-selling recording artist, knows her way around the music business.
"She's very confident, very bright," he says, "and knows what she's talking about."
Viewers are still getting to know Lovato and Britney Spears in their roles as judges and mentors. The second night of Fox's music reality/competition show's two-night season premiere is at 7 p.m. Thursday.
We chatted last week with Lovato about her life on The X Factor.
Is this gig everything you expected or have there been surprises?
It's everything I thought it would be and more. I always thought it would be fun. But you're in a position of mentoring people. You're trying to give them the best advice possible so they can be groomed into the pop star you know they can be. That's a lot more challenging that I thought it would be. But I am very excited and putting everything I have into it.
You've spoken out about how bullying has affected you. Has that made you cautious in your critiques? Has it made you careful not to cross the line when giving negative feedback?
Bullying is something that's totally different from criticism. Bullying, I think, can be when you're just harsh for no reason. When you're giving criticism, you're only trying to help somebody with their performance or their voice or whatever. I think definitely you could cross the line with some jokes. But ultimately I'm just having fun and trying to give them constructive criticism.
What do you think it takes for the winner of a show like this to then become a legitimate superstar in the eyes of the music-buying public?
You have to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to be willing to not get a lot of sleep. You have to work very, very, very hard. Part of this competition, a part of the mentoring, is we have to make the artist realize that it's not just about getting onstage and who has the best voice and the best performance. It's also about signing someone who has what it takes drive-wise.
What do you think of your other fellow judges, Britney and L.A. Reid?
With Britney, I feel like the world hasn't really gotten a chance to see her personality over the past couple of years. Now this is the perfect opportunity for people to really see the light inside of her shine. She's very witty and funny and quirky and I just have such a good time working with her. L.A. is so much fun to work with, so much more fun than Simon.
Any concern that critics might tune in just to find fault with what you and Britney do?
This show is about finding a superstar and giving people the chance to win a huge prize of $5 million. That's all that I care about. I'm honored to be on the panel. That's all I'm focusing on right now.
Which presidential candidate do you think has more of the X Factor, that extra something that gives him star quality?
Oh, no, I've learned that you never talk about religion or politics in the spotlight. They're both good speakers. They've both got the X Factor. They're both nominated for a reason.