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Maybe her answer would have been different if she'd been given a head's up that the dawg in the next seat was leaving, but on Thursday Nicki Minaj told Ryan Seacrest she was still feeling the "American Idol" love.
With just one week to go in the season after Angie Miller's shock elimination on Thursday night, Minaj sat down with host Seacrest on his radio show before the broadcast and had nothing but positive things to say about her bumpy stint on the once unbeatable reality singing franchise. "That's a million-dollar question," she said when asked if she'd be back next year. Hours before sole original judge Randy Jackson announced his departure. "I have to say this all the time, but I want people to know it's genuinely from my heart. I love the people on 'Idol.' I genuinely do. If I had to do this all over again, I would have done 'Idol.' Because it's fun, it's laughs."
Amid rumors that the entire panel could be flushed in order to pump new blood into a show that went from being #1 in all of prime time to dropping another 25 percent from last year's already series-low ratings, Minaj lamented the focus on the negative.
"It's kind of sad that what people read all the time is only when something is negative," she said. "But they don't realize that we built a family. I feel happy here and I have to thank them for giving me this chance. They could have picked anyone in the world. And they picked me. So that's all I'll say about that."
Despite Minaj's positivity, it's hard to foresee a scenario where she returns, given that her first stint on "Idol" has virtually taken her out of the music game at the peak of her powers. With two hit albums to her credit and a still-growing worldwide fan base, Minaj has made headlines over the past five months mostly for her nasty feuds with fellow judge Mariah Carey.
And with a average viewer age that was reportedly around 48 last year (compared to 34 when the show launched in 2002), the "Idol" audience isn't exactly in Nicki's sweet spot.
While rival Carey has used the show to promote her new duet with Miguel, "#Beautiful," including debuting the video for the song on Thursday's episode, Minaj, who was reportedly paid $12 million to Carey's reported $18 million, has not been able to parlay her spot on "Idol" into any significant promotional push for new music or projects. Well, except for those recent Beats commercials, and, let's face it, Jimmy Iovine has already been doing enough product placement in the show for his and Dr. Dre's line of headphones and speakers for the both of them.
At press time, it did not appear that Minaj had made any updates about her "Idol" status and the show's spokespeople did not offer comment on Jackson's departure or the fate of the other judges.
Do you think Nicki will be back next year? Let us know in comments below!
Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.