The former Love Islander, 26, was praising Nelson, 28, for the courage she has shown while facing horrendous abuse from online trolls.
The Little Mix singer revealed the extent of the abuse she’s received in a BBC Three documentary which aired earlier this year.
Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out also saw the star discuss once trying to take her own life after reading negative messages about herself.
Speaking to Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, Hughes explained that Nelson called him to discuss the reaction to the documentary shortly after it aired.
He said: “She rang me, bless her, about 10 minutes after the documentary aired and she was just so overwhelmed and she just broke down on the phone to me.
“She’s a strong girl now, she’s extremely strong.”
Through tears, he added: “I don’t know why, but I get so emotional when I’m speaking about it.”
Revealing that Odd One Out has been screened for pupils at the school he attended when he was younger, Hughes said: “But I think the beauty of that documentary is that it doesn’t just help people who are going through that struggle online, it helps the elder generation – the parents to understand the dangers of social media.”
Explaining his emotional state, Hughes added: “I’m fine talking about myself, but I get emotional when I talk about other people.
“She’s [Nelson’s] so brave and so strong, she didn’t deserve any of that. She’s fantastic.”
Odd One Out was met with huge praise from fans and TV critics and also broke records, becoming the top programme on BBC iPlayer in its week of release, with 1.87 million requests within seven days.
A BBC Three commission, it also aired on BBC One on Thursday September 12, and drew over 3.3 million consolidated viewers within the first seven days.
Hughes briefly featured in the documentary, as did Nelson’s bandmates.
Discussing the impact bullying had on the singer, Jade Thirlwall said: “We just had to watch this amazing, funny girl become a bit like a broken doll. It was horrible.
“I remember feeling really angry. I wanted to just find every single person that had ever said anything horrible to her, look them in the eye and say, ‘Look what you’ve done to this girl’.”