Nigel Lythgoe Mariah & Nicki Beef Is REAL ... And Here's Proof

EXCLUSIVE


"American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe is adamant ... the bitter feud between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj is as real as it gets -- and his proof lies in simple logic.

Nigel was out in L.A. yesterday when we asked for the final word -- did he or did he not stage the feud for ratings??? -- and Nigel replied, "I have no idea why I would be doing it [for ratings] five months before the show went out."

He added, "I would only do ANYTHING for ratings a month before the show went out. They've got my timing wrong."

Translation: keep your eyes out for a crazy "Idol" ratings ploy in three months.