Nicki Minaj Tops List of Potential “Idol” Judges, Will Coke Interfere?

Nicki Minaj is surging in the news of late. Recently, the rapper had to cancel shows at the V festival in England scheduled for this weekend. Minaj reportedly strained her vocal cords. Some have kidded in say she apparently pushed herself too far when she performed on the “Today Show” this week. Clearly, Minaj will need her vocal chords if she lands the gig as an “American Idol” judge, which leads us to the real news surrounding Nikki.

“Idol’s” interest with in the pop star has triggered a war between Pepsi and Coke. The two rivals are battling over superstar Nicki Minaj. The rapper/singer is reportedly at the top of the list for the open seat on season 12 of “Idol.” Combine her potential judgeship on “Idol” with her new endorsement deal with Pepsi and you have the perfect ingredients to launch a soft drink competition as a side show to “American Idol.” Minaj’s deal includes commercials, touring and album promo, “Idol” sponsor Coke is not very thrilled at the prospect. The leading soda company has been an “Idol” partner since season one, at a cost of $26 million per year, according to reports. Though the show was able to solve a similar problem when longtime sponsor Ford got wind of judge Jennifer Lopez’s commercial deal with Fiat, the Coke/Pepsi feud has much deeper roots and either party is not likely to acquiesce.

The reason Coke may not be able to accommodate the addition of Minaj to the judges table is because Pepsi has cast her as the face of their product. Hence, Coke would then be fueling the star power Pepsi would depend on to make bank from the deal with the MC, and that’s the last thing Coke would want.

However, following confirmation from Minaj that she was invited to join FOX’s X Factor USA, we’re not too sure why she’d decline that offer to accept another from a smaller outlet. Especially, when it could hinder her chances of landing a  performance spot on X Factor UK, which many fans are hoping would help boost her British profile and sales of her latest LP “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.” It makes no sense, but who can figure Minaj anyway.

So if Fox and FremantleMedia execs have their way, this year’s panel will consist of Minaj, previously announced judge Mariah Carey, a country star (the leading candidate is Keith Urban, says an insider) and a Latin artist Enrique Iglesias (who is believed to be the No. 1 choice).

In March, Minaj showed genuine empathy toward those who compete on “Idol,” as we have learned from the “Hollywood Reporter,” “It’s very difficult to be picked apart. That rejection thing is heavy.”

Curiously, the big unknown is the show’s longest-sitting judge Randy Jackson. As Carey’s co-manager and longtime collaborator, he’s not going anywhere, but his role could be diminished, as others have reported. Reportedly, The Hollywood Reportedhas learned that Jackson might step into a mentor role instead of Jimmy Iovine. But mainly, he’ll be around to serve as a sort of “comfort blanket” for Carey. Nevertheless, a source close to production says reports of an Iovine exit are “not accurate.”

The move to four judges makes sense at this point, considering that “The X Factor” and “The Voice,” the latter of which could end up being serious competition for “Idol,” both use a four-judge panel.

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