The new and very much awaited “American Idol” judges are hitting the ground running―to say the least.

Pop divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj along with Country music star Keith Urban and “Idol” veteran Randy Jackson began auditions for the popular singing competition on Sunday in New York City at the famous Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, entertainment site TMZ is reporting.

“American Idol’s” vibrant host Ryan Seacrest was also in attendance and will remain as host when the show returns for its 12th season in January.

“American Idol” producers made the official announcement about the judges on Sunday, hours before the auditions took place.

The announcement also settled the status of Randy Jackson. He will stay put as the sole remaining original "Idol" judge, scotching rumors he might assume a different role on the popular talent competition.

The decision to leave Jackson as part of the judging panel comes after “idol” producers could not come to an agreement with Enrique Iglesias, says TMZ.

"I am thrilled about this year's judges panel," said Mike Darnell, Fox president of Alternative Entertainment.

"With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy, chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan, we've put together one of the most exciting judging panels around."

"Idol" is looking for its famous new faces to supercharge a show that remains a ratings leader but has seen its viewership and pop-culture clout erode in recent seasons in an increasingly crowded talent show field.

Besides Fox sibling "The X Factor," which recently added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, there's NBC's "The Voice," which boasts Christina Aguilera among its big names.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press

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