Steven Tyler thinks the entire Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey beef is being orchestrated by the show for ratings ... and as a former judge on the show, he's one to know.
Our photog spotted the Aerosmith rocker last night leaving an L.A. restaurant -- it's called Son of a Gun (we like the name) -- and when we asked him if the entire feud was BS, he scoffed and said ... well, watch the video and you'll see.
And just in case you had hopes the scarfed one might make an "A.I." return some day ... Tyler proclaimed he'd never go back.
It's not safe for a delicate person like him.