Stirring the fantasies of millions who indeed wished their girlfriends were hot like her, Nicole Scherzinger brought sexy sizzle to the Pussycat Dolls and parlayed that into a solo singing career and a win on the tenth season of Dancing With the Stars. Now she’s joined Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid as a judge on FOX’s new music competition The X Factor (Wednesdays, 8/7c). If you want to win a singing contest, or just like to gazing longingly at her, read on.

MADE MAN: As a former Pussycat Doll, you have a sexy image. Do you think The X Factor will give you more credibility in the music business?
NICOLE SCHERZINGER: I don’t know if it gives me more credibility. I’m still the same artist, but I think people will get to know me more and see another side of me and connect with me. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and opened up a lot more.

MM: What kind of judge are you?
NS: I want to bring out the best in the contestants. I’m a judge that wears her heart on her sleeve, but when it comes down to it, I’m not a pushover. I watch with a very critical and careful eye.

MM: You’re not afraid to talk back to Simon?
NS: Absolutely not! He doesn’t intimidate me. But I believe in him and trust him. When Simon called me and asked me to be part of the panel, I was so honored and elated.

MM: Does having been a singing competition contestant yourself give you extra insight into the competition process?
NS: Yes. I grew up in a small town, with humble beginnings, and I didn’t know how I was going to get my way out to Los Angeles. So ten years ago I went through that exact audition process on Popstars and it got me in front of the right people. So I know what contestants are going through. I come from a different place of compassion and understanding. You have to be a fighter, and you have to absolutely be resilient, and you have to believe it and want it. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

MM: What kind of music are you doing as a solo artist with Hello Love?
NS: It’s pop music, but it’s deeper and more personal. I wrote and chose songs that pertain to relationships that have happened in my life. Having gone through heartbreak, having lost myself in love and finding myself again, it’s empowering, it’s fun, it’s sassy, but I go a lot deeper than I did with the Dolls.

MM: There are a lot of big personalities on this show. Is everyone getting along?
NS: So far. I love our big, dysfunctional, happy family.

See more of this Made Babe in our Cheryl Cole vs. Nicole Scherzinger gallery.