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Anticipation is rising now that American Idol goes live beginning tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

This marks the first time Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj will give their no-hold-barred critiques, which makes some nervous. Since they started the show in September, the superstar judges have bashed each other, and Nicki has threatened Mariah’s life.

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Still, one person who is keeping his cool is host Ryan Seacrest, who will need to smooth over any possible altercations.

“What’s the opposite of nervous? Excited,” he says this week during the Idol Across America launch in NYC. “I’m giddy with excitement for us to do our live shows because it’s just what our program is about. It’s those moments that are spontaneous, that you don’t plan, that are unvarnished and raw. We’ve seen them from the beginning with Paula [Abdul] and Simon [Cowell] and Simon and me. That’s what our show is about.”

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Despite their contentious behavior, Ryan believes the queen bees will maintain clarity in front of a live audience.

“I don’t think anybody will get into a fight,” he says. “I think there will be disagreements, and I think that will happen when you’ve got strong personalities whose job it is to judge and give their perspective. You’re always going to have disagreements.”

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Although Nicki’s career highlights pale in comparison to Mariah’s, Ryan believes the bewigged rapper is a good fit for the show.

“I’ve known her for a long time, so I wasn’t so surprised that she would be good at judging,” he says. “She’s very good at speaking her mind, and being honest. Her heart is in the place where she is trying to tell them what she believes is the right thing for them to hear to get better or to make it through, and she takes it seriously.”

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Hm, what does he think of the new judging panel that also includes Keith Urban and veteran Randy Jackson

“They’re the most fashionable judges, collectively, that we have ever had. Keith’s biceps intimidate me. Nicki’s hair? I’ve said to her ‘I love the straight blonde, you’ve got to keep that,’ and she did—at least for an episode, so we’ll see what happens this week.”

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He continues, “Randy, I don’t know how he has so many shoes. Every episode, he’s worn a different pair of shoes for twelve seasons. And Mariah literally looks like she’s going to the ball every night. I look forward to them all walking out, what they’re going to have on.”

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This time around, the live shows will be different from past seasons.

“I think the emotions from the contestants will be heightened,” he says. “There’s no safety net, there’s no turning back, and I think also once they start seeing what the public is thinking about them, it will have an impact on the contestants. If they’re doing well, it will have a good impact, and if they’re not, then they’ll want to work harder, but there’s no doubt that this phase is a make-or-break phase for them.”

Hm, what are we missing on TV that he gets to see behind the scenes?

“When you are in that theater, it can sound a little different,” he says. “I do think the judges are doing their best to pick the full-rounded contestant that’s got the voice, that can make a connection, and that they deem as memorable.”

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He continues, “They disagree at times. I think you’ll see some serious, huge disagreements as the season goes on, but in the end, the public is going to decide, and so if they disagree now, then they want to keep disagreeing, and they can override anything.”

He calls contestant Zoanette Johnson’s performance last week “full of volume, from the hair to the voice.”

Time to jet! Ryan is off to the airport, but leaves us with parting gifts of stress-ball-like American Idol microphones. Run!

Will you watch American Idol tonight? Tweet us @OKMagazine.

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