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Mariah Carey Talks 'American Idol' Judging Strategy

The pop diva tells THR about her "interesting" experience joining the judges panel alongside Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey's new stint as an American Idol judge officially began with Sunday's first season-12 auditions in New York, and so far, the Grammy-winning, butterfly-loving, mother-of-twins pop diva appears to be doling out the tough love.

"I try to be honest and I try to be constructive," Carey told THR on Wednesday night at a Peggy Siegal Company party for Penny Marshall's new book, My Mother Was Nuts, at Monkey Bar in midtown.

"I don't know if that means that I'm nice or mean or whatever," she continued. "I'm a producer and I'm a songwriter, and I look at myself as a singer as kind of third. But I look at these kids as though we're in the studio producing a record. And if I feel they should have done something a certain way, I'll say, 'you can try this, you can try this,' only in a constructive way, to sort of be a guide and someone to give them guidance rather than, like, judging somebody."

STORY: First Official Photo of New Judges Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj

So far, she said, "It's been very interesting. The main thing is seeing how many diverse voices there are out there, and how much untapped talent there really is and we're only in the first two shows so far."

A smiling and seemingly relaxed Carey dined at a table across from Marshall, who also drew such power pals as Lorne Michaels, Barry Diller and Gayle King to her event.

Earlier this week, Idol host Ryan Seacrest addressed reports that Carey is feuding with Minaj, saying in an appearance on the Today show: "Nicki and Mariah, two very different, strong, powerful successful women on the panel -- there are not too many dull moments between the two of them. But at the end of the day, we all hug and laugh and go home and get ready for another day."

When asked about working with Minaj, Carey demurred, "You know what, I think the whole thing is gonna be an experience that unfolds each day. But it's cool, I'm glad to be there, and right now after this, I'm going to the studio and working on some new music and (I'm) excited about that. ... That's always gonna be the most exciting thing for me."

Twitter: @ErinLCarlson

Email: erin.carlson@thr.com