A person familiar with the show's negotiations say Carey is being pursued to join the judging panel of the Fox talent competition. The source requested anonymity because of the private nature of negotiations, which were termed as serious. Carey has also been courted by other talent competitions, and her name has been thrown out in the past for "Idol" and other shows.
There are two openings: Both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler announced last week that they were leaving as judges after two seasons. Randy Jackson, who is a manager, producer and friend of Carey's, is the only judge left. There are reports that Jackson's role may shift as well.
If Carey were to join, she'd bring considerable expertise on hitmaking: The Grammy-winner is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with numerous No. 1 hits. She's currently working on a new album, her first since her twins were born last year.
It would also give the show a heavy dose of superstardom, which is key considering the star power on shows like "X Factor," which added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges and will begin its second season in the fall.
"American Idol" has been TV's most popular program for nearly a decade, but has had a marked downturn in its audience. Once a ratings juggernaut, its last finale drew its lowest ratings in its 11-season history.