This season of American Idol is sure to be jam-packed with drama ... especially with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey sitting at the same judges' table.

After word spread that the two divas got into a screaming match during auditions in Charlotte, NC, host Ryan Seacrest opened up about the situation on KIIS-FM.

Seacrest told his audience: "It got heated between Nicki and Mariah. It was intense! I'll be honest with you . .. It went far last night. It did get intense."

During the AI fight, Minaj is heard saying, "I told them I'm not f**kin' putting up with her f**king highness over there. Figure it the f**k out. Figure it out."

Ryan then adds:

    "These are all very different individuals with different perspectives and different opinions that provide for interesting conversation and dialogue and feedback for the contestants."

With AI competing against X Factor with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato AND The Voice with Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine ... makes us wonder if this diva drama was all staged to get people chattin' about Idol. Guess it worked!

Click thru to see the video of Nicki cussing out Mariah.