Courtesy: Blossom Berkofsky/Marie Claire

She may work right next to American Idol alums Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul on The X Factor, but Nicole Scherzinger is striking out on her own in the September issue of Marie Claire ... and she looks gorgeous doing it!

In a far cry from her Pussycat Dolls days of corsets and leather, The X Factor judge opted for a natural, beach-friendly look for her new photo spread. Nicole may look demure, but she's still got those cat-like instincts when it comes to her career. She told the mag:

    "I definitely have the eye of the tiger. I've fought my way to where I am and will continue to do so. I'm a hard worker - I get it from my family. We only know work. Nothing was handed to us. When I believe in something, I go after it. It's very hard to tell me 'no.'"

Have you heard her latest single "Right There"? Clearly no one is telling this gal what to do! In fact, there's only one place Nicole's taking a backseat - on The X Factor. But that's only because sometimes it's just fun to sit back and watch back her co-stars. "I'm the luckiest person to get a front-row ticket to the Simon and Paula show. This whole thing has felt like a roller-coaster ride," she told the mag.

See another pic of a stripped-down Nicole ... after the jump.