"I felt like, 'Okay. I know everybody's just going to hate me,'" Minaj admitted on a conference call with reporters this week. Her response? "'Oh well.'"
Her prediction wasn't entirely off the mark. To say that Minaj is the most polarizing judge the show has seen in years would be a kind understatement. But she insists she's just being herself.
"I didn't realize that maybe I am a bit strange," she said. "The way people react to what I say to the contestants, it's like, that's really how I act. But people think it's kind of strange. Like when I asked Kree [Harrison] to marry me I didn't think that was strange. But I guess looking back at it now, maybe no Idol judge has ever asked a contestant to marry them on live TV. I don't know. I guess in general Im just surprised at the way people react to things that I see as very normal."
"I definitely didn't have a preconceived notion of who I was going to be on that panel. ... If I'm polarizing, I'm polarizing," she added. "Whether they like it or not, at least they're getting to know who I really am."
Minaj refused to discuss some of her more "polarizing" moments, such as when she arrived nearly 15 minutes late to a recent Idol live show. (She was 30 minutes late dialing in to the conference call, for the record.) In fact, when asked to name her best and worst moments as a judge, she responded: "I don't have a worst Idol moment. I've been spectacular. I'm going to toot my own horn. My best moment is every single moment. I'll toot it again."
Switching gears over to the contestants, Minaj named Harrison, Candice Glover and Angie Miller as the three frontrunners this season. No surprise there, as the trio made up the Top 3 two weeks ago and it's a safe bet the rankings didn't change significantly last week, though the order of the Top 8 wasn't revealed. But Minaj also went a step further. Asked whether there was "even a chance for a guy to win this season," she didn't hesitate.
"No," Minaj said flatly. "Absolutely not."
Though she says she occasionally worries about being "mean" as a judge, Minaj says she truly cares for the contestants — and relates to them in a way that goes beyond music.
"I feel like my entire career and life I've been judged by people who really did not know me," she said. "I'm just happy that the Idol producers gave me a shot on the show for me to be able to show who I really was. ... Some people don't get an opportunity to show the world who they really are. Some people come out and put an album out and people just never talk about them again, but I was given an opportunity to show who I was as a human being and I really appreciate that."
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.