By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) — X Factor fans may be looking forward to next week’s finals, when a male country singer, a girl band and a female soloist battle it out for a $5 million record contract. But the end of season two will be another finale of sorts, as judge L.A. Reid announced Thursday he is leaving the show.
No, he didn’t say he’s mad at Simon Cowell.
As chairman and CEO of Epic Records, Reid is very busy, according to the label, and he needs to turn his full attention to his job.
The third season will launch without him. His replacement is yet to be announced.
The song contest show has seen some other turnover this year, with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato replacing first season judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul. Two new hosts, Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez replaced Steve Jones.
The X Factor, which runs on Fox, competes for viewers with similar sing-offs – American Idol, also on Fox, and The Voice, on NBC. All three have suffered some ratings dips, according to entertainment industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter. They have since doled out millions to lure new stars to judge and host positions to attract more viewers.
Reid appeared to enjoy himself at Thursday’s semi-final broadcast, when the country singer he mentored, Tate Stevens, was voted by fans into next week’s finals.
“I can’t even claim to have been a country music fan, but, you know what, I am now, but more importantly, I am a Tate Stevens fan,” Reid boisterously exclaimed after embracing the singer in the cowboy hat upon the announcement of his protégé’s victory.
Tate will be joined in X Factor finals by soloist Carly Rose Sonenclar and girl band Fifth Harmony.
Reid had worn a cowboy hat during Wednesday’s show to support Tate. On Thursday it was missing, which set off questions about its whereabouts on social media.
“Someone stole it,” @LA_Reid tweeted in reply.
He will have to leave the show without taking his hat.