American Idol has a decade-long reputation as one of the most successful reality talent competitions, but for the show’s newest judges, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, making the decision to join the famous franchise wasn’t an easy one.

Carey says it was her husband, Nick Cannon, who persuaded her to accept a position at the Idol judges’ table.

“I was on the fence about the whole thing,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “[Nick] said I should do it because it’s the top, it’s the cream of the crop. And I felt like, ‘Do the show that’s produced massive stars who have had major careers.’ ”

As a judge, Carey takes pride in offering contestants encouragement to follow their passion for singing.

“Some people still want to be inspired. Some people need to have that kind of validation and to feel like, if this person did it, then I can. And I do have one of those stories,” said Carey.

For Minaj, her hesitation about joining Idol stemmed from her wanting to maintain her image in the hip-hop community.

“[There is] “a judgmental culture in hip-hop,” where “sometimes you are afraid of being too famous because it’s almost, like, is that even cool? Being that accessible, someone you see on TV every week? I never pictured myself as that type of person. I’m still surprised that I decided to do it,” admitted Minaj. Before signing on the dotted line, Minaj says she consulted trusted members of her inner circle. “I had a lot of talks with people — my family, my best friends, my label, Lil Wayne, management and then the producers.”

Watch Carey and Minaj make their American Idol debut when the 12th season premieres on Wednesday, January 16. Will you be tuning in?

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