Carey will replace Jennifer Lopez, who sat on the judges' panel for seasons 10 and 11. Also departing this season is rocker Steven Tyler.
"It’s the biggest recording artist than any of these [singing competition] shows have ever had,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly announced Monday. “It’s an artist many of these contestants have tried to emulate. [The deal] only concluded only hours ago. Not being the only game in town we need to keep things fresh.”
Randy Jackson, who was one of the original three judges, along with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the show debuted in 2002, will reportedly stay on.