Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj Split With American Idol

Singers quit as Fox preps big changes for Season 13

The American Idol exodus continues apace, as pricey divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj have decided to leave the show after a single season.

PMK-BNC, Carey’s publicity firm, tweeted out the news late Thursday afternoon, alerting fans that the singer “says goodbye 2 Idol” as she prepares for a world tour in support of her new single, “Beautiful.”

Carey, who earned a cool $18 million for her 37-episode stint as an Idol judge, almost immediately retweeted PMK-BNC’s message to her 10.9 million followers.

Idol production partners Fox and FreemantleMedia issued a brief joint statement acknowledging Carey’s departure from the show.

“Mariah Carey is a true global icon—one of the most accomplished artists on the planet—and we feel extremely fortunate that she was able to bring her wisdom and experience to the American Idol contestants this season,” the statement read. “We know she will remain an inspiration to Idol hopefuls for many seasons to come.”

Minaj played catch-up with her Idol nemesis, using social media as an outlet to let 16.6 million fans know that she was leaving as well, saying it was time to focus on her music. Minaj banked $8 million during her time as a judge.

The twin defections arrive on the heels of Idol veteran Randy Jackson’s announcement that Season 12 would be his last. Country singer Keith Urban is also not expected to return for the 2014 edition of Idol, although no official announcement has been issued by Fox or Urban’s camp.

Among the Idol alumni said to be lining up for a shot at replacing this season’s panel are Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken. New judges are usually unveiled in September, when Idol begins its taped auditions. 

Speaking to reporters the morning before the network’s 2013-14 upfront presentation, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said that while the three freshman judges would be welcomed back, “everything at this point is on the table.” He went on to add that the Idol format “will have a few fresh twists that…will really be a nice little jolt for next season.”

Reilly also added that it was likely that Idol would revert to its old three-judge system.

One change that Reilly perhaps did not foresee at the time of the upfront press chat is that Idol will have to soldier on without longtime Fox president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell, who last Friday passed on a contract extension with the network.

The shakeup behind the judges’ table comes after Idol sustained a much remarked-upon hit in the ratings. But while Idol dropped to an average live-plus-same-day delivery of 13.2 million viewers (down from 16.3 million in Season 11), its 3.8 rating among adults 18-49 made it the No. 5 show on broadcast TV.

The week before Fox made its upfront pitch to media buyers, Reilly told Adweek that he would consider a move that would shave some hours off of Idol’s weekly running time.