The X Factor is a television music talent show franchise originating in the United Kingdom, where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol. The competitions, now held in various countries, are contested by aspiring pop singers, and talent filled aspiring performers drawn from public auditions. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The prize is usually a recording contract (in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants). The format creator is Simon Cowell who also judges and mentors on the UK series. The UK version is responsible for the launch of Leona Lewis. This year 2009 the auditions are on stage infront of thousands.