When asked to name their choice of winner, both judges praised finalists Jahmene Douglas and James Arthur, but agreed that the 34-year-old Liverpudlian would "struggle in the long term" in the music industry.
Speaking to journalists including Digital Spy, Walsh said: "I wouldn't be disappointed [if Maloney won], because I think long term the talent always wins - look at Olly [Murs]... One Direction. They didn't win the show, but they have amazing careers."
He added: "[Maloney]'s a good singer, he's a nice guy, but we're looking for a star."
When asked what qualities the show's winner needs, the music manager continued: "They need a commitment from the record company, they need great songs and they need to be original."
"They need to be James Arthur," said Tulisa with a smile.
"Yeah exactly," agreed Walsh. "James is original, he's ready-made, he's got the talent."
Both judges also said that they want to be part of the show next year, and Walsh added that he would like to see Sharon Osbourne return to the panel.
"I'd like Sharon Osbourne to come back... and yes, she would come back," he said, before adding that his ideal lineup would include Tulisa, Simon Cowell, Osbourne and himself.
The X Factor final airs live on ITV1 tomorrow (December 8) at 8pm.
Photo gallery - famous X Factor hate figures: