Is Nicki Minaj for real?

After today's Twitter meltdown, I'm starting to think not so much. As much as we'd all like to believe that Minaj and fellow American Idol judge Mariah Carey are at each other's throats, the story of their backstage drama has become too good to be believed.

Earlier this week, TMZ published explosive footage of the divas going head to head. Even more dramatically, they reported that Nicki had threatened to shoot Mariah. Shit was getting real.

And today Barbara Walters verified Carey's side of events on The View, saying that she had spoken to Mariah about her concerns.

Nicki walked off the set and multiple people heard Nicki say, "If I had a gun I would shoot the bitch."

Since the story of this feud first broke, the internet has questioned its veracity, wondering if perhaps American Idol is simply playing up the rivalry as a ratings ploy. While I condemn that kind of cynicism — let's give these women the benefit of the doubt when it comes to wanting to kill each other — this increasingly outlandish story is starting to look a lot like a PR move.

Here are some excerpts from Minaj's Twitter response to Carey's allegations and Barbara Walter's comments:

Hey yAll. Lets just say nicki said smthn about a gun. ppl will believe it cuz she's a black rapper. Lmao. I'll then hit up Barbara n milk it

Ironically no camera or mic heard the gun comment tho. Lol @ the struggle. Not even the producers believed u. Say no to violence barbz.

I don't call tmz n Barbara Walters cuz I stand on my own two feet. Never needed an army. God is good. Insecurity is as cruel as the grave.

I guess it hurts 2 have the producers tell u to ur face that nicki is the best judge we've had since simon. Awww, poor u. Keep them lies cmn

All I do is compliment u. That's not enuff? Ur a legend, cheer up. U don't have to run down ur resume or feel intimidated. Shady McGrady...

In the words of The X-Files, I want to believe. But a death threat, a Barbara Walters intervention, and a heated Twitter response are a lot to swallow — especially when both women are still under contract to work together.

Of course, it's possible that the beef is real, and that producers are just letting it play out (or more likely, encouraging it) for ratings. Regardless of how true it is, even non-American Idol fans might start tuning in for the thrill of seeing two judges claw each other's eyes out. It's like NASCAR but with longer nails.

[Image via AP]