6:18pm PT by THR staff
'X Factor' Host Steve Jones: Season 2 Return Question; How Ryan Seacrest Set the Bar Too High (Video)
As Fox's The X Factor heads toward its finale Thursday night, speculation has been running rampant over whether host Steve Jones will be back for another season.
The U.K.'s Daily Mirror recently reported that Jones won't be back after failing to connect with U.S. viewers. The paper cited unnamed sources and “terrible reviews” as the reason for his alleged dismissal.
“There have been mistakes and he just doesn’t seem to have the knack for dealing with contestants,” according to the tabloid. “The executives at Fox have already decided not to renew his contract, and so, short of a miracle happening, it is pretty much a done deal that he will not take part next season.”
A rep for Jones told The Hollywood Reporter that the story was a "fabrication," while a show spokesperson added that "no discussions have been had and no decisions will be made about any contracts until the New Year."
THR's X Factor experts -- THR.com editor Joseph Kapsch, THR music editor Shirley Halperin and THR.com writer-reporter Jethro Nededog -- sat down to weigh in on Jones' performance and chances of returning.
"If I were Steve Jones, I definitely wouldn't feel so confident coming into the end of this season," Halperin said.
She added Jones also had big expectations placed on him, arguing that it was inevitable he would be compared to American Idol's Ryan Seacrest, who has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy four times for his performance as that show's host.
"I think he actually did a pretty good job," she said. "It's just that when you think about a host and the immediate image of ryan seacrest comes to your mind, it's really hard to compare, and I feel like he stepped into some really big shoes in this role."
She also pointed to his on-air gaffes, including telling eliminated group Lakoda Rayne that "the dream is over," while Kapsch noted that his inability to connect with audiences shouldn't be blamed on Jones' Welsh accent, since So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley, who hails from England, hasn't faced similar problems.
"I just don't think he had the personality that connected with that job," Halperon said
"Ryan gives you something. he gives you a personality you can hold onto," he said. "Even Carson Daly in his laid-back style gives you something you can hold onto for [NBC's] The Voice. So Steve Jones, you just didn't feel like there was something that you related to or you felt that he had something to offer."
Nededog added that Jones never seemed comfortable ad-libbing.
"When he needed to speak without a teleprompter, he wasn't successful showing his personality," he said. "He can't feel safe; I don't believe he does."
The two-hour X Factor finale at 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox.