Simon Cowell is reported to have been calling The X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger to praise her work on the show, while snubbing Gary Barlow.
The Sun reckons that SiCo is trying to unsettle Gary with the calls to Nic - and even claims that he has told her she is worthy of the title "head judge".
It is also claimed that the reality TV mogul has suggested that the former Pussycat Dolls star will be back next year, despite earlier claims to the contrary.
A source said: "Simon's irritation with Gary is well known. He's given him the Over-25s — two of whom have been binned.
"And he's been refusing to call Gary. Instead he's been buttering up Nicole on the phone — saying her comments are best and don't sound scripted like Gary's."
And Gary's Take That bandmate Robbie Williams has also been a thorn in his side this weekend, tweeting his support for Rylan Clark.
On Saturday Robbie tweeted: "TEAM RYLAN ALL THE WAY."
And it must have worked because the controversial singer found himself clear of the bottom two yesterday - when MK1 went home.