The judge wanted to make the competition more challenging.
'I believe in constantly raising the bar,' he says. '[This year's show] is bigger, better, faster and tougher.'
Simon, 49, has transformed the format of the first round for the new series.
'It was time to change things, make it different,' he tells Now Online.
'Holding auditions in front of live audiences is testing but allows real talent to shine through.'
Where to next?
Check out the new talent in our X Factor 2009 gallery
Take a look at judge Cheryl Cole's rise to fame