'The Sing-Off' host Nick Lachey still has the "it" factor

Nick Lachey. (WENN.com)

Nick Lachey. (WENN.com)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

All these musical reality competition shows say they're looking for an act with the so-called "It Factor." You'll notice I said "It Factor," not "X Factor."

Nick Lachey, host of the televised "a cappella" contest known as The Sing-Off, had the "It Factor" in his heyday with 98 Degrees. But 98 Degrees was back on tour this year with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block.

"You can't get out there on stage and perform in front of 18,000 screaming women if you don't feel like you've got the 'It Factor' still," says Lachey, 40. "So we definitely did.

"We couldn't have been more proud to be on stage each and every night with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block. We certainly had a great time doing it. The music business has changed quite a bit since our last time on stage, but I know we all couldn't be more proud of what we did this year, and all the things we've done throughout our career.

"(But) to balance the two, obviously it's all about scheduling. Shawn (Stockman, who is one of the judges on The Sing-Off) with Boyz II Men and I were both on the road as part of the package tour. And literally we finished our last concert and started The Sing-Off (the next day). So we went right from one into the other."

This technically is the fourth season of The Sing-Off, which returns Monday, Dec. 9 on NBC and CTV Two. But there was a long gap. The third season ended way back in December 2011.

"It was put on the back burner there for a moment," Lachey admits. "It think we all were very cautiously optimistic that the show would come back. But I really have to give a lot of credit to the very passionate fans of the show out there for really petitioning and clamoring for it to come back.

"Obviously when we all got the call we were ecstatic. We all do the show because we love the genre of 'a cappella' and love the show and really believe in it. So for Shawn and I, who had been with the show from the beginning, it was a very, very welcome call to hear that we were coming back for season four."

Joining Stockman on the judging panel this season are returnee Ben Folds and newcomer Jewel.

"I just thought (Jewel) was a fantastic addition, incredibly knowledgeable," Lachey says. "Certainly not at all hard to look at from my vantage point on stage. She made my night better just sitting out there."

Hmmm, Nick Lachey used to be married to Jessica Simpson. Would you say he has a type?

Well, Jewel and Jess clearly have the "It Factor" as far as Nick Lachey is concerned. Whether any of the new acts on The Sing-Off have it remains to be seen.