nickiminaj-mariahcarey-americanidolNicki Minaj and Mariah Carey were the center of attention on the debut of “American Idol’s” 12th season, marking a new low-point for the show, which is now all about the theatrics of the judges. Contestants? What contestants?

With competition in the talent reality show segment fiercer than ever, Idol producer Simon Cowell put together the incendiary duo to obviously juice the ratings.

When reports first surfaced last summer that Minaj and Carey were at each other’s throats, the show was quick to issue denials about a feud or bad blood between the two. But their sniping was the centerpiece of two-hour premiere.

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As the auditions unfolded in New York, tempers flared between the two right off the bat when Minaj walked onto the set wearing a drum major’s hat.

“We can have accessories?” Carey sniped, muttering that she might bring her dog. “I didn’t know that was allowed.”

Minaj wasn’t about to let that drop. “Why did you have to reference my hat?” she shot back.

It was that kind of show. Newly minted judge Keith Urban and veteran Randy Jackson were reduced to bit players as they tried to get down to the business of picking contestants.

The sniping continued throughout most of the show. Minaj called Carey a “bit*h when the diva started talking about her holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas.”

Carey rolled her eyes and uttered “Nicki” reprovingly over and over.

“Right away we knew it was going to be an interesting couple of days,” host Ryan Seacrest said, hyping the confrontation.

If the show was hoping fireworks between the two would jazz ratings, then they may have made a serious miscalculation. The backbiting is likely to get old very fast. Especially now that most of it seems to have been manufactured.

Oh, and the contestants? Sure there were some standouts. Tenna Torres, Christina “Isabelle,” Frankie Ford and Ashlee Feliciano were tops among the 41 hopefuls who won passes to Hollywood.

The show picks up tonight (Jan. 17) with more auditions and, to be sure, more fireworks. Check out the video below and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for all the latest music and reality television updates.