The feud.

If you've paid any attention at all to the news coming out of American Idol,you've heard about "the feud" between new judges Mariah Carey and NickiMinaj - including rumors of threats of violence. So is the conflictreal, or is it just a press stunt?

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"It's authentic," insists Foxalternative president Mike Darnell. "There's passion in this group. ...It's not just the girls, it's everybody."

In other words, maybe, maybe not.

"I feel like this is a very passionate panel," chimed in Carey. "Ithink there are a lot of strong personalities. Starting this process, Ithought there was a possibility that there could be a lot of diverseopinions. ...The fighting is what it is. This is American Idol, it's bigger than all that. It's bigger than some stupid, trumped up thing."

MORE: Minaj says Carey is one of her favorite singers

"It's a distraction from the show," she told TV writers in Pasadena Tuesday. "It's a distraction from the contestants."

Asfor what actually happened, and how they got past it, Minaj just says,"Haven't you ever had an argument with anyone you work with?"

"It was sort of one-sided," adds Carey. "No it wasn't," answers Minaj.

So, to put the reports to rest, could the two women say something nice about each other?

"Isay nice things about Mariah all the time," says Minaj. "She's one ofmy favorite artists of all time. She's really shaped a generation ofsingers. ... All these singers that come in, they aspire to be MariahCarey."

For Carey's less-effusive part, she says she did a song with Minaj "very early on in her career. ... It's called Up Out My Face,ironically. ... I did know and I did feel that she was going to go veryfar. I'm grateful for anything nice she or anyone has to say about me.I'm grateful to be here."

As for what to expect from them asjudges, Minaj says she's there to judge, not just sit there and expresssupport and sympathy. "We're really paid to do a job. I don't want to behere if I'm not going to do it," she says. "I don't feel the need tosend a person through just because of a great story."

Or, one imagines, because they take her side in The Feud.