Simon Cowell says he regrets opening his "big mouth" when he said he wanted X Factor USA to reel in 20 million viewers.
The music mogul had indicated that it would be a "disappointment" if the new show didn't achieve this figure on its first series.
He now says that people misinterpreted his statement.
"That was a slight misunderstanding. I wasn't saying I want 20 million for the first episode. I said we want to hit 20 million," he said.
"Of course that went out there and I thought, 'I have really opened my big mouth here because anything now under 20 is a disaster."
The show's first episode attracted 12.5 million viewers, which was less than the premiere of the new series of Modern Family on a rival US network.
But Simon added that he was hopeful the show would draw in 20 million viewers eventually.
"I do believe - in time, because I believe in the show - we're going to hit those numbers.
"You've got to remember - this is a new show," he added.
Photo: © Rex Features