I cannot believe that the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey feud is real. I bet it says in their contracts that they have to bring drama, am I right?
—LaNaya I., via Twitter
If it isn't staged, you can at least bet that these people are playing their drama straight to the American Idol audience, making sure that watchers of The View know all about it, and then strutting around with extra security in full view of the paparazzi.
Now, according to people who would know, the answer to your question is no. It's not typical for a reality talent contract to demand X amount of hair-pulling or gun threats in exchange for a paycheck, and it's incredibly unlikely that the beef between Carey and rap toucan Minaj is any exception.
"There is nothing I've seen that's the contractual equivalent of 'you must pick a dispute with one of the contestants' or ‘you must be extraordinarily mean'," says Brian Sullivan, entertainment litigator at Early Sullivan.
However, that doesn't mean that the conflict is definitely real, either.
The judges' contracts may not formally require conflict or even drama, but there is usually a little clause that can, often, add up to the same thing.
"Oftentimes the contracts are very broad and open-ended" when it comes to how talent should behave, says Chad Fitzgerald, partner at Kinsella Weitzman. "The language usually says that the talent will go along with producers' reasonable instructions, and their direction."
In other words, if a producer were to call aside a judge and ask her to, say, disagree more often with the panel, or just "speak her mind" more, well, successful talent isn't stupid. She knows that's code for "bring us more conflict or don't come back next season," and so she just might bring it, whether it happens to be "real" or not.
For the record, sources have indicated to our news team that the nastiness is authentic. Or, at least, realer than Nicki Minaj's current hair color.