She is on the verge of agreeing a £1.5million deal to help revive the ITV talent show’s flagging fortunes.
It comes two weeks after the 34-year-old singer impressed with a cameo appearance at boss Simon Cowell’s Judge’s House, leading fans to demand a permanent return.
A show source said yesterday: “It looks like Cheryl will be back next year. Simon knows Nicole is likely to leave and he wants a big name, and some much-needed glamour on the panel.
“He knows he will get that with Cheryl and she would be a really popular signing and a huge hit.
“Simon has had his own problems lately but has been really keen to get the deal nailed down.
“He is a huge fan of hers and has been turning on the charm to ensure she comes back.
“They have had several meetings about it and Simon has had his top people on the case to make sure it is all sorted.”
This year’s X Factor has struggled in the ratings against BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing.
Its return in September attracted an average of just six million, the lowest since the show began.
Cowell moved for Cheryl after ex-Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole, 39, dropped hints she will quit.
The American — the only judge not to sign up for next year’s series — says she is “incredibly ambitious and still have a lot of things musically I want to achieve”. Cheryl, who gave birth to son Bear with One Direction singer Liam Payne, 24, in March, would join Sharon Osbourne, 65, Cowell, 58, and Louis Walsh, 65, in 2018.
Our source added: “Louis was a huge factor in this. He wants Cheryl back as well and agrees getting her would be a massive coup.
“It is also clear that they need someone younger on the panel when Nicole leaves.
“And Cheryl will bring in a more youthful audience, as well as attracting blokes to watch the show.”
The former Girls Aloud star first appeared as an X Factor judge in 2008, winning twice with Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry.
She quit in 2011, then returned for two series in 2014. Her last stint came as her marriage to Jean-Bernard Versini, 37, crumbled.
Worried fans voiced fears over Cheryl’s dramatic weightloss and dour performances.
Two weeks ago Cheryl told The Sun she was finally content. She said: “I’ve had the best six months of my life — really.”
Our source said Cowell, who suffered a fall blamed on low blood pressure at his West London home last week, was thrilled by Cheryl’s happiness.
The source said: “He has supported her through her problems and wants her back in the fold now she is happy.
“Simon and Cheryl are both happy with the deal and they hope the fans will share their feelings. He is cock-a-hoop and thinks she will be great.”