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January 05, 2017 12:00 PM

As the controversy surrounding Mariah Carey‘s New Year’s Eve performance continues, the singer’s ex-husband Tommy Mottola is telling critics to back off.

“It could have happened to anyone, and it has,” the superstar music executive told Page Six. “So everyone should just get off her back and leave her the hell alone.”

Mottola, who discovered Carey and was married to the singer for nearly five years, stood by the Grammy winner’s talent.

“[Mariah] is arguably the greatest pop voice to come along in the last three decades,” he said. “She has had more number one hits than any pop artist in history!!! She is a global icon and a treasure with incredible talent not only as a singer but as a great songwriter. What happened on NYE could’ve happened to anyone!”

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While he was supportive of Carey’s talent, he did fault the singer’s “technical people” — who “should’ve helped pay more attention to all of it so that there was no chance of that happening.”

The problem, Mottola thinks, is bigger than what happened on New Year’s Eve. It has to do with the people she surrounds herself with. Carey had parted ways with Columbia Records, where Mottola, head of Columbia’s parent label Sony Music Entertainment, had helped guide her, in April 2001.

“My only advice is that she should hire more seasoned and respected professionals to surround her and help her with her career!” he said. “Most certainly none of these issues or problems ever existed with her in her early days at Sony for the first 10 years when she skyrocketed to global superstardom!! Where absolutely meticulous and methodical attention was paid to every single detail and nuance that went into her career!”

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He specifically cited Carey’s E! reality show Mariah’s World. “I would never have encouraged her or guided her to do something like a reality television show!!!!!” Mottola said. “I don’t get it!! That does absolutely nothing for her integrity, her credibility, or her massive talent!!”

As for next steps, Mottola suggests Carey “step back, think carefully, and figure out what to do next.”

“That is what she does best,” he said. “Hopefully she will find her way to the right professionals for guidance. It’s never about the fall, it’s all about the recovery.”

Mottola and Carey married in June 1993, divorcing in March 1998. He married his third wife, Mexican telenovela star and recording artist Thalía, in December 2000. Carey is currently dating dancer Bryan Tanaka — after splitting from former fiancé James Packer.

In response to Mottola’s piece, Carey’s manager Stella Bulochnikov told Page Six, “Tommy is a relic.”

“Did he give you that statement from a rotary phone?,” Bulcohnikov asked.

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