Mariah Carey — $18 MILLION for One Year on ‘American Idol’

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Mariah Carey just became the HIGHEST PAID JUDGE in reality television … because her one-year deal with “American Idol” is worth close to $18 MILLION … this according to sources connected to “Idol.”

Carey”s deal dwarfs the contract Jennifer Lopez signed when she joined the judge”s table — J.Lo only scored a measly $12 mil for her first year on the show.

Carey also blows past Britney Spears … who”s making $15 million on “X Factor.”

Somewhere … Nick Cannon is smiling.

Mariah has since tweeted about joining the show … saying, “It”s gonna be so much fun working on American Idol. As a singer-songwriter, I”m excited to help find and nurture new talent. LYM! – MC”