This is a tabloid story, so take it with your usual ration of salt, but Us Weekly is reporting—"exclusively," they add—that Britney Spears' roller-coaster career is about to take another dip, as the "Toxic" singer is on the verge of being fired from her X Factor judging gig after only a year on the job.

The story comes from Us Weekly and not, like, National Enquirer, so consider the rumor a little more legit, but still, the traces of tabloid tropes are cause for a little bit of skepticism. For one, as recently as last month, Spears was said to be a lock for season three of the reality competition. And, as usual, every source saying otherwise hides under the cloak of anonymity:

"Britney will get the boot," an insider tells Hot Stuff of the pop star, who joined the show in May, along with fellow newcomer Demi Lovato. "Producers wanted her for the long haul, but it isn't working."

One reason? Spears' $15 million contract, which sources say the low-energy mentor hasn't earned. "They paid all that for her to say 'amazing' and offer half-claps," a second insider tells Us.

There's also a third unnamed source, who drops the obligatory "crazy." (In a shocking twist, Spears is now receiving behind-the-scenes criticism for not being crazy, which raises the question of exactly how she can win with these people.)

Adds a third source of show co-creator Simon Cowell, who is leading the charge to axe the performer: "He wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney."

Third, the mag reports that all this is happening just as Spear's relationship with Jason Trawick is falling apart, again from an anonymous pal. It all just seems a little too perfect for a "Her Life Is Falling Apart!" cover, is all we're saying. The X Factor rumor mill has been wrong before.

But at least one thing the sources said is definitely true: Spears is making a lot of money on X Factor, a show with not-great ratings and no star contestants to its name. Could these rumors be part of a hardline negotiating strategy on Cowell's part, to force her to take a pay cut? That's our conspiracy theory, and until we see Britney actually walk out that door, we're sticking to it.

[Us Weekly]