NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: Mariah Carey attends the "American Idol" Judges And Host Photo Call at Jazz at Lincoln Center on
Rob Kim

When she's not either becoming BFFs or testily fighting with new co-judge Nicki Minaj, American Idol judge Mariah Carey says she is trying to be "honest" and "constructive" with contestants vying to get on the show.

"I don't know if that means that I'm nice or mean or whatever," she told Hollywood Reporter Wednesday night. "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."

THR also asked Carey about Minaj because that's all anyone cares about anyway. "The whole thing is going to be an experience that unfolds each day," Carey said, presumably trying hard to remember her pre-scripted answer. "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."

Well played, Mariah. Well played.