As we breathlessly await the opening two-hour show of Season 12 of American Idol on Jan. 16th there is one thing for certain – the judges aren’t going to walk over any fiscal cliff.

Despite all the hoopla (i.e. a catfight between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj which we shall discuss at length later), both are going to be giggling all the way to their local ATM.

In a recent interview, Barbara Walters asked Ms. Carey if the reported $18 million annual salary that AI was willing to give her was “in the ballpark.” Carey’s reponse? “It’s in the ballpark.”

So, now you know why you see all those Ford commericals during the show…

Other “in the ballpark” figures for the 2013 juding panel on TV’s most popular show:

Minaj – $8 million; Randy Jackson – $6.5 million; and Keith Urban – $4 million.

And their ages just in case you were interested: Carey (42); Minaj (29); Urban (44); and Jackson (56).

Don’t know who is gonna win thise season, but I do know who already has won…