American Idol Judges Discuss Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey Conflict — Is It Real?

The “American Idol” feud between new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey appears to be truly authentic, and quite possibly, still going on.

On Tuesday, the cast of the show, now in its twelfth season, hit the stage at the FOX portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Session 2013, and when a reporter pressed the two women on how they sorted out their conflict, which made headlines last year when a leaked recording of the altercation hit the internet, a hint was dropped that the feud is not over.

“I think time sorts everything. Time heals all wounds,” Mariah said in answer to the question, adding, “I did nothing and here we are.”

“We’re professionals… Haven’t you ever had an argument with someone you worked with?” Nicki said to the reporter. “I feel like people…”

“It was sort of a one-sided thing,” Mariah said quickly.

“No, it wasn’t,” Nicki quickly stated.

Before that one moment on Tuesday that seemed to hint at the realness of the conflict between the two stars, Mariah told reporters that focus on the video of the two fighting, took away from the young people trying to become the next “American Idol.”

“The whole thing was convoluted. You know what it is? It’s a distraction from the show, it’s a distraction from the contestants. And I think it’s like unfair to them,” she said. “It shouldn’t be about any of us sitting up here. It should be about the contestants.”

Earlier in the panel, the superstar, who wore a strapless green cocktail dress and diamond choker necklace, said she expected some conflict behind the bench when she first signed up.

“This is a very passionate panel. I think there are a lot of strong personalities and starting this process, I felt like there was a possibility that there could be differences of opinion,” she said.

“The fighting is what it is,” she added. “This is ‘American Idol.’ It’s bigger than all of that. It’s bigger than some stupid trumped up thing. I think that it’s about the next huge talent — superstar — that will come from this show.”

Sitting between Mariah and Nicki on Tuesday was Keith Urban, who came to “American Idol” after a season on Australia’s version of “The Voice.” Addressing the different experiences, the country star said he found a camaraderie he didn’t expect, with his fellow judges.

“Yeah, I did ‘The Voice’ in Australia, earlier last year and I really enjoyed that. I think… coming from a little bit of that [kind of experience] when I was a kid, there was a synergy about it that I really loved and I genuinely love artists. They’re like my brother and sister, whatever age they are, and I see myself in small ways in every single one of them, so I love being able to maybe help them,” Keith, who appeared on a talent show as a youngster, in Australia, said. “But the camaraderie that I found with these three guys… was just really welcoming. I didn’t expect the sort of warmth that I felt. Right from dinner in New York I felt like a little family with these guys.”

“A dysfunctional family, but still,” Mariah laughed.

“But still loving,” Randy Jackson jumped in.

“Putting the fun back in dysfunction,” Keith said.

Aside from talk of the judges, Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed some of the new format changes coming to the show. He revealed they separated the boys from the girls during the Hollywood sessions, spending one week with each sex. He said they plan to separate the genders again in Las Vegas right up until the Top 10 is chosen.

“American Idol” returns with a two-night premiere on January 16 and January 17 on FOX.

-- Jolie Lash

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