Mariah Carey arrives on the set of “American Idol'” in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 2012

*Mariah Carey is looking for “natural born singers” during her freshman run as a judge on “American Idol,” and the superstar says she can spot them within seconds of their audition.

“For me it’s fairly quick,” she told us during interviews for Season 12, to premiere Jan. 16 on FOX. “What I think is interesting is the diversity that we’ve seen and that’s what I tried, in the beginning, to go with. Because I had a feeling I would tend to think, oh it’s got to be this like, big-voiced thing for this type of competition, where there are some people that sing all different types, be it country, there’s a lot of heavy metal guys we come across, and some amazing people that grew up in church singing R&B music perhaps. Or they’ll sing a song that’s not even R&B. So, for me, I can hear pretty much a natural born singer pretty quickly.”

Mariah Carey arrives to the Los Angeles set of “American Idol” ahead of filming.on Dec. 12, 2012

Although natural talent in a contestant is a prerequisite for Carey, she’s also looking for other intangibles.

“I would love to see someone who has struggled, who has determination and who has star quality,” she said, “but who is undeniably talented.  I really want to see that.  And, also someone unique.  It would be nice to see that potpourri of a person who gets to live their dream for that moment.”

Mariah may know what she wants in a contestant, but the singer says she still had a hard time saying “no” to the hopefuls who couldn’t cut it. Listen below.