Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj Feud: Former ‘American Idol’ Contestants Don’t Believe the Hype (EXCLUSIVE)

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Is the now-infamous feud between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey a bitter diva showdown — or a publicity stunt?

Several former American Idol contestants are airing their opinions, and most believe the hype is manufactured.

“I think right now because the show isn’t airing, they are trying to keep the buzz up,” said Season 3 star Diana DeGarmo, who came in second to Fantasia Barrino. “I think it’s just a case of them causing a stir to get people excited to see it. Then when it starts, it’ll be back to the contestants.”

But ultimately, DeGarmo doesn’t think the drama will help ‘Idol.’

“The show is not about who’s judging — it’s about the contestants,” said DeGarmo, who’s currently planning her wedding to fellow AI alum Ace Young. “It’s great they have a wide variety of judges and so many different types of musical people. I just want them to remember it’s about the contestants. I don’t want this to distract from the beauty of what American Idol is.”

Blake Lewis, who took home second place behind Jordin Sparks in Season 6, also believes that Minaj’s relentless rant on Carey was staged.

“It’s totally a production set-up,” Lewis said. “Nigel [Lythgoe, the show’s producer] and the production team are trying to get eyes on American Idol. There are like a million shows out there right now, like The Voice, The Next.”

“I don’t really watch [Idol] anymore. I’m more focused on me,” he said, adding he has a “deep and moody” new single set for release at the end of the October.

But if he had to choose between Carey and Minaj, Lewis picks the latter. “I heard Nicki Minaj gave me a shout-out,” he said. “At the press conference, she said she voted for me. She and her brother used to watch during my season and it legitimized her feelings about the show. I’m definitely a fan. She’s dope.”

Paris Bennett, meanwhile, believes Minaj and Carey aren’t faking it for the cameras.

“I think it’s real,” said the 24-year-old, who came in fifth during Season 5. “Sometimes when Nicki goes off, it’s real. I don’t think she’s faking it — she doesn’t hold her tongue. They’re two strong personalities.”

But those personalities may be just what Idol needs, says Bennett.

“I think it’s a good idea to have judges from opposite sides of the music world,” said the singer, who’s working on her next album and starring in Tyler Perry’s Aunt Bam’s Place. “Nicki is great because she has so many fans and she’s pretty straight forward,” she said. “And Mariah — who doesn’t love her vocally?”

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