Melanie Amaro has nothing but nice things to say about Simon Cowell, her mentor and the most acerbic judge on "The X Factor," adding that he is like her "daddy."
Amaro, 19, is one of the final three contestants and the last female left on the talent series, which Cowell launched in September after leaving "American Idol." She had traveled from Florida to Los Angeles to compete on "The X Factor" and is the contestant that the British judge is pushing to win.
"Simon's amazing," Amaro told OnTheRedCarpet host Rachel Smith. "I know you've seen him for years on 'Idol' and different things like that, but let me tell you, Simon is so not like that off camera. He's so sweet. He's like, 'I love you doll.' He's like a big teddy bear. He's like my daddy while I'm out here."
Cowell had thrown Amaro a lifeline during the competition. In an October episode, it was revealed that she was not going to make it to the next round, but the judge was later seen visiting her in her Florida home to tell her that he wanted to bring her back.
Amaro, who wowed viewers with her renditions of songs by artists such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When she was younger, she was sent to live with her grandparents in Tortola in the Virgin Islands for most days of the year because her "Caribbean-bred parents couldn't afford to take care of her," according to the official "X Factor" website.
"Being away from my parents for the long time, I had to find something to lean on so I looked to God and I looked to my music," she is quoted as saying. "And I sing. I just kept my mind from something else other than just being away from my parents."
On the first part of the show's season 1 finale, which airs on FOX on Wednesday, December 21 at 8 p.m. ET, Amaro faces off against rocker Josh Krajcik and hip hop singer Chris Rene, who admitted that the rising starlet is his biggest threat.
"She's badass," Rene told OnTheRedCarpet.com, regarding Amaro. "You know what I mean? That's it."
The three will compete for a prize of $5 million and a recording contract - the most valuable prize offered in a singing contest series. Krajcik told OnTheRedCarpet.com that if he won the money, the first thing he would buy is a new vehicle.
The winner will be announced on Thursday, December 22. Justin BieberTeen pop star Justin Bieber said on his Twitter page that he plans to appear on the finale.
Reporting by Rachel Smith, host of KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).
UPDATE Check out a recap of the second-to-last episode of season 1 of "The X Factor." The finale airs on Thursday, December 22.