By James Hibberd
Updated October 05, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT

American Idol producers are breaking their silence after the feud between newcomer judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj hit a dramatic new level. The pop singer told ABC News reporter Barbara Walters yesterday that she’s hired extra security because rap artist Minaj had threatened to shoot her.

The production team issued the following carefully worded official statement Friday: “This is one of the best, most passionate, dynamic and invested judging panels we’ve ever had. We love and support all of the judges and the fantastic work they are doing, and we can’t imagine a better group to find the next American Idol. Despite all the accusations and media speculation — much of which is inaccurate — production is going extremely well today and the judges are focused on finding the best talent here in Baton Rouge.”

Walters said Carey told her Minaj was overheard declaring, “If I had a gun I would shoot that bitch.” Minaj then fired back on Twitter, saying nobody from the Idol team heard the threat, and issued a series of tweets mocking Carey’s claim: “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. 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.”

Some believe there is an intense feud between two of the new American Idol judges that inadvertently went public with the release of that on-set video on Tuesday. Others think this entire fight is nothing more than a massive publicity stunt orchestrated by the Idol organization. Then there’s those of us in between, who suspect there’s real animosity between Carey and Minaj, though it might have been what Fox and Idol producers hoped to generate by putting them together in the first place.

In any case, it’s tough to imagine that the fairly conservative Idol team — responsible for a top-rated hit family show with plenty of blue chip corporate sponsors — would be on board with taking any judges’ feud to the level of a gun violence threat. Or, in this case, the accusation of a gun violence threat. Though the producers’ statement is vague and doesn’t specifically address anything that’s been said — it doesn’t even mention Carey and Minaj by name — the reference to inaccurate “accusations” after yesterday’s blow up will cause some to believe that Minaj was correct when she tweeted that the production team did not overhear the alleged threat. After all, Idol‘s most outspoken producer, Nigel Lythgoe, already told TMZ the same thing, calling the gun threat “absolutely not true in any way, shape or form.”

Meanwhile: Don’t these people have some contestants to audition?