Barlow said that ex-judge Cole gave him the warts-and-all details on the difficulties of the role and insisted that the Girls Aloud star is still "on top form" despite her axing from The X Factor USA.
"Before I took the job on, I had a couple of phone conversations with Cheryl because I really wanted to know the ins and outs of the show," he told Radio 1's Chris Moyles.
"She said you need to ask for your category, you should be able to tell them which category you want. So the whole way through I was telling them I want the 'X', I want the 'X'… and of course I didn't get it, they gave me something else."
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The Take That star continued: "She was brilliant, she really told it me like the TV company hadn't told it to me. She told me how long the audition days would be, and the frustrating times, and what was difficult and what wasn't.
"She was really offering everything I needed to know so I could really make a decision on whether I wanted to do it or not. It was very sweet of her and I saw her recently, and she's on great form I think."
Barlow also responded to criticism of his harsh judging style, arguing that was the reason he was brought on to the panel.
"Louis [Walsh] will put anybody through," he joked.
The X Factor continues on Saturday at 8pm.
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