With Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler announcing that they will not be accompanying American Idol back to its 12th season on the air, the hunt is on for new judging talent on America's pre-eminent reality music competition. However, due to the lesser ratings and lost ad revenue of Season 11, the real prize game might be out of Idol's grasp this time around. The Hollywood Reporter posits that Idol is "looking to downsize significantly for season 12, cutting budgets, staff and, of course, salaries, the latter of which will make recruiting top pop talent (like a Fergie, Nicki Minaj, or Will.I.Am) to fill vacancies all the more challenging."

Despite the limited budget, the show is still said to be pursuing fairly top pop talent Mariah Carey, whose professional relationship with Randy Jackson—Jackson manages Carey in his day work—might be, as THR puts it, "the ace up [Jackson's] sleeve." And beyond that, the show can always just go one step down with the other judges—maybe Nelly Furatdo instead of Fergie, Lil Kim instead of Nicki Minaj, and Flo Rida instead of will.i.am. The American public will never even know the difference!