In her first season on "American Idol," Nicki Minaj has established an entertaining, brutally honest style that's been a breathe of fresh air on the judges' panel. But in an interview with THR, Minaj stressed that just because she keeps it real, that doesn't mean she doesn't care about the contestants.

"I know that sometimes when I speak in a really blunt way like I do, people take that as me not loving and caring about these people. But I really do, I feel like they're family to me. But I feel like I'm not doing them a service if I blow smoke up their ass, and I just refuse to do that."

The case of Burnell Taylor was a prime example of Minaj's approach. Minaj respected Taylor's voice and personal story and cried after he was eliminated, but still didn't rally the judges to use their save on him. "I mean, when I see someone come from nothing, and their family just lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, and they had to rebuild ... I remember my own childhood, and I remember how many children are out there suffering now ... Burnell, not only did he have such a beautiful story, but he had such a unique voice and unique spirit. So yeah, those tears were real for Burnell," Minaj explained.

"American Idol" airs Wednesday and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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