"American Idol" will soon kick off another season, and if all the behind-the-scenes drama teases anything, it's that this season just might be the show's most explosive. But, if you ask Mariah Carey or Nicki Minaj about their headline-making October spat, they don't seem to have much to say about it, or at least don't want to talk about it in great detail.
While Minaj didn't directly address the altercation in the cover story, she did note that when pushed "I am scary and intimidating. I definitely demand respect. I'm also a sweet person. I'm a loving person. But I don't want to be f---ed with."
But the tensions still seem apparent when asked if she thinks her image might be too over-the-top for the show. She implied there's someone else on the panel who dresses just as sexy as she does, and she didn't mean Keith Urban or Randy Jackson. She added, "I could think of at least one other person that shows more cleavage and skin than me."
However hard she may seem, once she hit the set, her warmth and know-how left one "Idol" executive floored. "The perception of Nicki is unfair, really," Ken Warwick said of her talents as a judge. "Everyone thought she was just a daft, half-educated rapper. But she has got a heart, and it's starting to show, along with her intelligence, which threw some of us as well. And her eloquence and her grasp of what's going on. I think she'll surprise a lot of people."
Shortly after video of the verbal sparring was leaked, some "Idol" fans wondered if the show's masterminds had anything to do with firing the two women up. But, Nigel Lythgoe insists that the producers had nothing to do with the fight. "I don't think I would've done it so far away from the beginning of the season," he said, adding he won't use footage of the fight ahead of the show's January 16 premiere. "Plus, it was about the judges and not the contestants, and I'm totally against that. So, no."
With the air sort of cleared, Carey and Minaj did open up about how despite initial reservations to join the show, they eventually caved. For Minaj it was all about maintaining her hip-hop cred. "I had a lot of talks with people — my family, my best friends, my label, Lil Wayne, management and then the producers," Minaj explained, later noting that it was the "lovable" Mike Darnell, Fox's president of alternative programming, who persuaded her to join. Still, she's unsure how "a judgmental culture in hip-hop" will embrace her role on the show.
"Sometimes you are afraid of being too famous because it's almost, like, is that even cool?" she said. "Being that accessible, someone you see on TV every week? I never pictured myself as that type of person. I'm still surprised that I decided to do it."
Carey's concerns were very different from Minaj's. But, after her husband, Nick Cannon, convinced her it would be a good move, she was on board. "I was on the fence about the whole thing," she explained. "I got approached by all the shows... He said I should do it because it's the top, it's the cream of the crop. And I felt like, 'Do the show that's produced massive stars who have had major careers.' "