X Factor judges will be sending their own acts home this weekend - with four due to leave on Sunday night.
Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland will have to make the agonising decision to each lose one of the acts they have been mentoring.
Producers had promised a big twist to kick off the live segment of the series to keep the show "fresh".
It means there will be no public vote to decide the contestants who are given the chop - just the judges.
The wannabes were informed on Wednesday of the plan, with judges explaining it is to ensure they are up to the task of performing on-stage.
Louis said "it's all to play for" and show bosses hope the new twist will encourage the acts to "step up a gear to the live stage".
Contestants looked shocked as they were told the news, with Frankie Cocozza, Kitty Brucknell and girl group Rhythmix looking most surprised. But judges were given a round of applause after they had explained to the final 16.
Each judge will put three of their four acts through to next week's show.
Gary told them: "There's going to be no public vote - instead each judge must vote off one of their acts.
"This is the X Factor stage - it's one thing singing by the pool but it all changes here. This is where stars are born, like Leona - it's all going to feel very different on Saturday."