Host Ryan Seacrest did his best to smooth over Minaj's absence, sitting in her chair and teasing the rest of the judges.
"I hear she’s seven minutes out and there’s some congestion on the 405, so she should be here momentarily," Seacrest explained at the start of the show.
"Which one of you judges gave Nicki the wrong directions to the studio today? Who drained the fuel from her car?" he joked.
Minaj shared her traffic woes over Twitter:
Stuck in traffic *sighs*— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) March 14, 2013
When the 30-year-old "Super Bass" singer finally appeared, she looked relatively casual in a black sweatshirt with the hood up and large black sunglasses.