It's official: Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban will join the judges panel for the 12th season of American Idol. After weeks of rumors, the FOX network confirmed the news on Sunday, Sept. 16, right before auditions in New York for the next season were to begin.
The 29-year-old female rapper and 44-year-old country singer join R&B diva Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson, who is the only original judge from Season One to remain on the show. FOX confirmed that the stories of Jackson leaving the show or taking on a smaller mentoring role were not true. Ryan Seacrest, who has also been there from the start, will continue his hosting duties for Season 12.
Minaj and Urban replace Jennifer Lopez and rocker Steven Tyler, who departed after two seasons on American Idol. While reports say Carey will be paid $17 million for her commitment, the new additions are rumored to be earning between $4-8 million.
FOX is calling it "one of the most exciting judging panels around." American Idol, once the only star search on primetime, now has two other major competitors -- X Factor, which includes fresh faces Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, and the extremely popular The Voice on NBC, which also boast a hip-hop star (Cee-Lo Green) and country singer (Blake Shelton) on its judges panel.
Season 12 of American Idol premieres in January.