SHE sold more than 60million records as lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls and helped to form One Direction as a guest judge on The X Factor.
But Nicole Scherzinger says an embarrassing catsuit malfunction left her fearing her solo career would end in tatters at her first gig — when she came close to flashing a teenage Justin Bieber.
Nicole, 45, told for the first time about the awkward moment, which happened in front of a live studio audience in November 2010 on the telly talent show and when the Baby singer was just 16.
She says: “My worst fear happened. I was going on stage and it was my first time performing solo. It was on The X Factor and it was me and Justin Bieber.
“I was due to sing my new song Poison and I had this catsuit on that fitted tighter than a glove.
“I was like, ‘Here we go, are you ready for me world?’ I was like, ‘Let me do my stretches’ — and the whole (crotch) area was wide open.”
Laughing, the Don’t Cha singer adds: “I have the best seamstress in the world.
“We were freaking out and they were counting down, because it was live and the show had to go on.
“She sewed that puppy up. I don’t know how it happened, but one move and the whole thing could have peeled off my body.”
Nicole went on to perform in the black and red latex one-piece and the show’s judges gave her a standing ovation, while Poison went on to No2 in the charts.
The mishap would have been doubly embarrassing as the star’s then boyfriend, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, was also in the audience.
Nicole spent seven turbulent years with Mercedes ace Lewis until the on-off couple split for a fourth and final time in 2015.
Reports suggested they broke up for good after the racing driver failed to commit to marrying her.
Family of strong women
Er, flash forward to today and Nicole is set to wed former Scottish rugby union hunk Thom Evans, 38, who she first met when she critiqued his 2019 appearance on Celebrity X Factor.
They are planning on getting married in her native Hawaii.
Nicole says her beloved grandad — a Roman Catholic priest — will officiate and they are planning a glitzy reception “somewhere in Europe”.
Nicole reveals that Thom was so nervous about meeting her folks that he ended up drinking too much and taking his shirt off.
The encounter came a long time before he got down on one knee to propose during a trip to romantic Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal in June, after three years of dating.
Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the US, Nicole recalled: “It’s a lot to take in when you meet my family.
“My boyfriend got a little scared so he got drunk with my cousins and my uncles.
“He got drunk and was doing a bit of Conor McGregor stuff and he took off his shirt. I was like, ‘Your shirt is off in my aunt’s living room!’ And my family was like, ‘We love it’.”
Before finding her happily ever after, Nicole dated actor and host of America’s The Masked Singer, Nick Cannon.
The besotted TV star declared she was the only woman he had ever “chased” after they got together in 1999, but they split in 2000.
After that she dated 311 lead singer Nick Hexum from 2000 until 2004, having met him backstage at one of his shows.
After Lewis she found love in 2015 with tennis star Grigor Dimitrov, but the pair called it quits after almost four years.
The singer will eventually be eligible for a UK passport after she marries Thom, assuming the globetrotting couple end up settling on these shores for three years.
Nicole says her pals already see her as an “honorary Brit” and she has become such a fan of roast dinners that she can eat two in a day.
Even before she met her fiancé she was regularly flying to London to record music and do TV work.
In 2010, while appearing as a guest judge on The X Factor, she insisted that five lads called Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson be joined together as a band.
On her part in founding One Direction, she says: “The way my mind was working was, ‘Look, I just came out of a girl group and I know how successful and powerful a group can be, so we’ve got to join strengths’.
“It’s amazing to think that we didn’t have anything like that at that time so I’m glad I got to play a small part.
“When it happened and they started to be really successful, I couldn’t believe it.”
Simon Cowell ended up taking most of the credit for spotting the boyband potential, while Nicole went on to be a regular guest judge on the talent show.
Nicole and Simon are close friends. She says: “I think the first thing — I hate to say it — that comes to mind is that he’s really thoughtful and kind.
“I feel like if I really needed Simon, I could go to him and he would be there somehow.
“Even though he has made his career off destroying other people’s dreams and stuff like that, I think in some ways he still wants to make people happy.
“People don’t see the charity work and how he gives back behind the scenes. He has a good heart.”
Nicole’s glamorous life could not be more different to her childhood in Louisville, Kentucky, where her mother Rosemary worked as a clerk and her stepdad Gary Scherzinger was a welder.
Money was tight and she supported her parents by working as a waitress and taking local modeling.
She got her big break when she flew to New York in 2003 to successfully audition for The Pussycat Dolls, joining bandmates Melody Thornton, Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt.
Their debut album PCD was released in 2005 and the Dolls’ raunchy burlesque performances and catchy songs saw them clock up a stream of No1s until they took a break to pursue solo careers in 2009.
Even after acquiring her fame and fortune, Nicole still talks with the same southern twang she had from her childhood in Kentucky. But her heart remains in Hawaii, where she spent the first two years of her life.
She says: “I am of Hawaii, Ukrainian, Filipino descent and in Hawaii we have huge families.
“My tutu — grandma — and papa have 80 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I had to do a head count.
“My tutu had ten children but she comes from 18. We have more than 250 people in our family. It’s a whole island — seriously, it’s crazy.
“My great grandmother had 18 natural births at home, so I come from a family of really strong, beautiful women.”
Super-fit Nicole keeps in shape by exercising regularly, meditating, taking ice baths and following a strict diet.
However, she does occasionally indulge in pasta, pizza, French fries, Mexican takeaways and salt and vinegar crisps — as well as those double roasts.
The singer and Thom shoot raunchy workout videos in which they exercise in perfect synchronization which get millions of likes on social media.
But Nicole reveals that they are not as easy to film as the final product suggests because they frequently squabble.
She admitted: “You know, he is a control freak and I am a control freak.”
Before the big day, Nicole continues to play Norma Desmond in the West End revival of musical Sunset Boulevard, which runs at the Savoy Theater in London’s West End until January 6.
While letting go of control can be scary for some people, Nicole is certainly no stranger to terrifying scenarios — especially after almost facing Justin Bieber, now 29, and a TV audience semi-naked due to her 2010 wardrobe hitch.
Asked about what she thinks is the scariest moment of her life, she answers: “Jumping out of a plane.
“We went way past the clouds and I was like, ‘What was I thinking when I booked this?’
“And thank God I had an amazing instructor, because he said, ‘Look up’ then pushed me forward and said, ‘Go!’
“After two seconds it was like being a bird and it was awesome.”