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"American Idol" Judge Search Update: They're Serious About Nicki Minaj, and That Could Reignite the Cola Wars


The "Hollywood Reporter" says NICKI MINAJ is "at the top of the list" to join MARIAH CAREY as a judge on "American Idol".  Nothing seems imminent yet, but if she IS brought onboard, there's a chance WAR could break out.  Not between anyone on the show.  Instead, it could reignite the old-school COLA WARS between Coke and Pepsi.

Nicki has a big endorsement deal with Pepsi, while Coca-Cola has a huge sponsorship deal with "Idol".  Coke has been partnered with "Idol" since Season One, and reportedly gives the show $26 million per year.  Naturally, Coke is "not thrilled" about the prospect of having Nicki on the show, and Pepsi probably wouldn't want Nicki drinking out of the Coke-branded cups at the judges' table.

Regardless, the "Hollywood Reporter" says "Idol's" dream scenario is a four-judge panel featuring Mariah, Nicki, a "country star," and a "Latin artist."  Despite rumors about BRAD PAISLEY, the leading country option is supposedly KEITH URBAN, and their top choice for a Latin artist is ENRIQUE IGLESIAS.

This means that RANDY JACKSON would be out as a judge.  But he'd remain onboard as a "mentor",like JIMMY IOVINE was last season, and a, "comfort blanket" for Mariah, who he manages.  (Wow, from "Idol's" senior judge to a mentor and a comfort blanket?  That seems like a HUGE demotion.)

By the way, a few weeks ago there was a rumor that "Idol" wanted to kick the tires with DIDDY.  Well, he commented on that this weekend.  Sort of.  He told the paparazzi, "I love 'American Idol'," and when asked how much it would take him to do the show, he said,  "They know."  (In other words, "Idol" is probably aware that he would be out of their price range.)

TMZ has video, which you can see here: