Is Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj Feud Real? Yes, And It's Also Great Publicity

The reality show judges continue to battle -- but who is really benefiting from it?

Most celebrity feuds unfold remotely. When Angelina Jolie bragged to Vogue about snagging the then-married Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston's retort -- "What Angelina did was very uncool" -- appeared only several months later (in the same magazine). Other celebrities, like LeAnn Rimes and Brandi Glanville, have waged war in real time, but from the comfort of whatever green room or limo they happen to be occupying. Twitter delivers their barbs for them.

Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj don't have the luxury of fighting it out with their thumbs. They have to show up and sit together at the judging table, twice a week, for American Idol's  live shows (FOX, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET). Their arguments are instant, and their mutual distaste is palpable and unedited. The only other place this happens on TV is The Real Housewives reunion shows, and those women signed up for claws-out conflict.

Sure, Minaj has also needled Carey through social media. "All dem #1s but JLo phone ringin?" she recently tweeted, in reference to the rumors that Idol producers hoped to replace Carey with Jennifer Lopez. "Lol. I guess having a personality, being a secure woman, and giving genuine critique still trumps that." But even as she typed those nasty words, she knew she'd soon be right back at the judging table with her nemesis come Wednesday. And she didn't care.

In fact, the eye-rolling Minaj appears to be the one getting the most pleasure out of the fight. Carey, for her part, has threatened not to return to the show. "Mariah doesn’t want to come back," an inside source told FOX411. "Nicki is really disrespecting her and she’s tired of trying to bite her tongue all the time."

Minaj certainly has more to gain from the publicity she's drummed up through their public battle. The young rapper is popular, but she hasn't hit the career milestones of an R&B icon like Carey. Idol has exposed her to millions of TV viewers who probably wouldn't have considered buying her CDs before. Most people already know who Carey is.

But while the source claims that the "judge throwdown is definitely not a marketing move," you could also take a more cynical view. All of this fighting keeps Carey's name in the headlines just as she's releasing her latest single. Is that really just a coincidence?  "My new single #Beautiful ft. Miguel is available to download on iTunes NOW!!" she tweeted today. 

Click below to hear it.

Is Carey enjoying the ongoing catfight with Minaj? Probably not. But chances are, she also knows that old maxim: "No publicity is bad publicity." If you're reading this, you probably listened to Carey's new song. And if you did, then Carey and her publicity team have succeeded. The dirty business of fighting with Minaj was worth it.

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