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'Idol' Producers Reportedly Had Secret Plan to Dump Mariah Carey and Bring Back Jennifer Lopez THR

"American Idol" producers and Fox executives recently created a secret plan to dump judge Mariah Carey and bring back Jennifer Lopez, all part of a scheme to boost the show's slumping ratings, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites “knowledgeable sources.”

But the plan reportedly failed when Carey responded with the threat of legal action. Even though producers have dropped the idea of ousting Carey, they are still negotiating with Lopez, who was a judge during the past two seasons, to appear on May's finale.

A search has begun to find a replacement for Carey, and possibly Nicki Minaj or even the entire judge's panel for the next season, the story says.

"This is just another ridiculous 'Idol' judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale," a Fox spokeswoman told the publication.

A representative for Carey denied the allegations, and producer Nigel Lythgoe said, "I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season."

While "Idol" started off the season with a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 17.9 million total viewers, its Wednesday performance show is now averaging a 4.3 rating in the demo, its worst performance since the show debuted in 2001.

While producers hoped Carey and Minaj would provide for dramatic viewing, some "Idol" executives worry the dynamic between the two has turned off some fans, the piece adds.