Michael Becker/FOX.
People Staff
January 16, 2013 11:00 PM

American Idol is back!

Season 12 premiered Wednesday night with the first auditions in New York City. And fans hoping to get a taste of drama from new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were not disappointed.

“Right away we knew it was going to be an interesting couple of days,” host Ryan Seacrest said at the start of the two-hour episode.

And he was right. (Spoilers ahead!) While fellow newbie Keith Urban and veteran judge Randy Jackson were all about the business of finding talented singers, there was immediate tension between Carey and Minaj, who wore a drum major’s hat to her first day on the job.

“We can have accessories?” Carey said disapprovingly after taking her seat at the panel. “I didn’t know that was allowed.”

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“Why did you have to reference my hat?” Minaj responded.

Later, when Carey boasted about her holiday hit, “All I Want for Christmas,” Minaj clenched her fists, gritted her teeth and used the b-word. Carey’s response? “I rebuke it,” she said.

The two women talked over each other at times, rolled eyes and seemed to annoy one another. More than once Carey said “Nicki” like an frustrated mother calls her child out for misbehaving. And Minaj pushed Carey’s buttons by talking in a British accent.

But as the two formerly feuding judges have said in recent interviews, the show should be about the hopeful contestants – and there were a handful of talented singers who earned golden tickets to Hollywood:

• Tenna Torres, who attended Camp Mariah and had previously sung for the singer, impressed the panel with her version of “You’ve Got a Friend,” and made her idol very proud.

• Christina “Isabelle,” who told a story of losing weight and finding confidence, had Minaj saying, “OMG! OMG!” with her version of “Summertime.”

• Frankie Ford, who sings for change on the New York City subway system, stumbled at first but delivered a soulful version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” “I like your big voice,” Urban said. “There’s a lot of musicality in the tone.”

Added Carey: “You have an inner glow, which is always beautiful to see.”

• Despite hearing loss in both ears, Angela Miller, who sang “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J, was “definitely one of the best,” according to Jackson.

• And Ashlee Feliciano thrilled the female judges with her version of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.” “So pretty,” Minaj said. “I want to come to your show … I’m so inspired by you.”

“The potential is great. It was beautiful,” Carey said. “You should be really proud of yourself.”

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At the end of the first two days of auditions, the re-invented Idol panel had done its job: the judges praised the talented singers and handed out 41 tickets to Hollywood; they sent home the kooky contestants (often sweetly) and offered constructive criticism and an invitation to come back next year to the ones still on their way to greatness.

“We gel well in a weird crazy way,” Minaj said at the end of the show. Carey said, “I agree.”

We’ll see how long that lasts! Auditions continue Thursday (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.

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