“American Idol” shakes things up. Again.

They might as well have renamed American Idol “Bozo’s Circus”. Become a clown is joining the judging panel.

And I don’t mean Keith Urban.

In news that leaked a few weeks ago, American Idol’s latest new judges are clownish rapper Nicki Manaj and country artist Keith Urban, announced by Fox early Sunday morning (because I guess observing the day the Lord has made is so 1954.)  They join ultra diva Mariah Carey, who signed as an Idol judge earlier this summer, replacing Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, who both departed the show after two seasons.

The move is the latest revamp for the seemingly desperate Idol, whose ratings are declining in the face of competing reality-competition singing series The Voice and The X Factor, the latter having its own ratings troubles, despite adding Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to the judging panel this year (in fact, The Voice announced Monday they were hiring Shakira and Usher to fill the judges’ seats on the spring 2013 edition of the show, temporarily replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green so they can fulfill other projects.)

With the decision to retain Randy Jackson as one of the judges – whose been with Idol since day one, the number of judges increases to four. The last time Idol had four judges on the show was in 2010, when the lineup featured Jackson, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGraudi, and Ellen DeGeneres. Fans criticized the move, saying the four-judge panel didn’t work.

The move to add Manaj to the panel – an outrageous rapper who performed a rather bizarre – and some said offensive performance during this year’s Grammys telecast – was universally panned by many on social media, particularly on Twitter. And when Mariah Carey was told via phone by Idol producers that they were considering adding Minaj to the panel , she hung up the phone on them.

After the announcement was made public, Idol conducted its New York City auditions Sunday afternoon, and already there were reports of Carey and Minaj fighting.

The move to add Minaj may not be a bad one – after all, conflict with Carey would make good television. But the spotlight would shift away from the contestants and onto the judges, and any prolonged conflict between the two – whether on the show or off – might put a strain on viewers, who’ve made it clear they are frustrated with the franchise.

But does the producers care about the fans? Of course not. By adding Minaj to the panel, they gave one big middle finger to the loyal Idol fanbase, one that has stuck by the show for years. And adding Carey – who is on the same level of divaness as Jennifer Lopez- is bad enough.

I suppose coming up next, Idol producers replace fan voting with the Grand Prize Game, in which contestants must throw the ball into the number six bucket to advance to the next round.

Let the Idol Circus begin.

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