Spice Girls Emma Bunton and Mel B team up on Simon Cowell during Saturday night’s The X Factor after he asks a contestant to come back with less make-up on.

Simon, who is mentoring the girls’ category for the first time, told 17-year-old Samantha Lavery to “peel away the mask” during performances at the judges’ houses.

The most intense stage of the show saw the girls travel to Simon’s house in Malibu, California, whilst Louis Walsh’s group visited Ibiza.

Simon was roundly criticised by Emma and Mel B, who were helping him narrow down his seven acts into a final three, after his comments to the teenager.

Samantha Lavery, who was criticised by Simon Cowell for wearing too much make-up (Syco/Thames/Dymond/PA)

He told Samantha: “I kind of wish we had met without what you think is your pop star image. I think that with you we have had a bit of a mask put up. All I’m saying, Sam, is I want to peel away the mask.”

Simon then turned to Mel B and Emma and asked if his remarks were “bad”, with Emma telling him the youngster was “allowed to experiment”, and Mel B adding: “It is bad… Â that’s what kids do.”

He told a visibly shocked Samantha he “wanted to get to know who you really are”, adding “maybe you should come back”.

After she departed, Simon told Emma and Mel B: “I would just like for her to take all the make-up off, come in a pair of jeans and just sing.”

Mel B and Emma Bunton criticised Simon Cowell’s comments (Ian West/PA)

Samantha returns at the end of the episode, with Simon calling her performance of Ed Sheeran’s Make It Rain “powerful”, before adding “it was like we were meeting you for the first time” and saying she was “brave” for coming back.

Caitlyn Vanbeck’s rendition of George Michael’s Praying For Time was also interrupted after the 18-year-old momentarily forgot her lyrics.

Louis, who was joined by Alesha Dixon and X Factor 2014 runner-up Fleur East, once again battled over his choices for the live shows after last week’s Six Chair Challenge chaos.

Novelty act Ottavio and Bradley’s entertaining cover of Christina Aguilera’s Candyman left Louis, Alesha and Fleur in hysterics, with Ottavio capping the performance by pushing his bandmate into the pool.

Three-piece 5am’s throwback to R Kelly’s She’s Got That Vibe wowed Alesha, who told Louis the boyband were “just going to get better”, but she was less impressed with wildcard Yes Lad, who she called “corny” after their performance of Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.

Ottavio and Bradley – who ended up in the pool after his partner pushed him in (Syco/Thames/Dymond/PA)

Simon, who was confronted with a provocative rendition of Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle from 18-year-old Soheila Clifford, also wrestled with his choices, saying he wanted to put through five of his seven acts.

“I made the show up, there’s no rules,” he told Emma and Mel B.

Also appearing on Saturday night’s show are couple Tom and Laura, girl groups Skarl3t and Four Of Diamonds, Olivia Garcia, Kayleigh Marie Morgan, and return contestants The Brooks, Emily Middlemas and Gifty Louise.

:: The X Factor continues on ITV on Saturday at 8pm.