Nicki Minaj Joining ‘American Idol’ as New Judge — Report

by | August 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM | American Idol

Nicki Minaj (Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images)

Keeping up with the “American Idol” rumors is harder than “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Singer/rapper/colorful character Nicki Minaj is reportedly close to signing a deal to join the Fox show as a new “Idol” judge, according to a report Monday by Us Weekly.

“I’m not sure the deal is completely done yet, but yes, she is definitely doing it,” a source is quoted by Us Weekly. “A few more slight things to sign off on but it is happening.”

Minaj joins previously announced new judge Mariah Carey as the replacements for departing stars’ Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

“Starships” singer Minaj, 29, is a popular artist, particularly with the tween set (just ask Ellen’s tiara tots Sophia Grace and Rosie), which is likely a factor in producers selecting her. She may help the reality show skew younger in the ratings — a maneuver pulled by rival singing show “The X Factor” in hiring Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as Season 2 judges.

Coincidentally, Minaj is the new face of Pepsi, recently landing a mega endorsement deal that includes commercials, touring and album promo. And “American Idol” is sponsored by Coke in a $26 million dollar a year deal, so the cola company can’t exactly be happy about the gig, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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Meanwhile, Season 12 of the Fox show may return to a four-member judges’ panel, THR also says, one that would surround Carey and Minaj with genre artists, like a country star and a Latin star. Country singer Brad Paisley has previously been mentioned as a possibility, although Keith Urban is now rumored to be the leading country candidate, while Latin hunk Enrique Iglesias is also reportedly a top choice.

What’s most interesting in the latest reports is that even in a four-judge scenario, sole original judge Randy Jackson‘s name is not mentioned, fueling the speculation that Jackson (who also happens to be Mariah’s co-manager) may be shifting to a “mentoring” role on the show, similar to Jimmy Iovine.

Season 12 of “American Idol” returns in January on Fox.