According to the site, now that "Always Be My Baby" pop legend Carey, 42, has succeeded Jennifer Lopez -- who exited earlier this month after two seasons as a judge -- Idol is now focused on finding a male judge and sees strong potential in Paisley, 39. (Steven Tyler announced his own departure just days before Lopez.)
For season 12, Idol is said to also be toying with the idea of a four-person panel, which was scrapped when Lopez and Steven Tyler joined Idol's only remaining original judge Randy Jackson in 2010. (Sources tell Us Jackson will transition into a new role as mentor now that Carey, whom he manages, is a judge.)
Paisley already has ties to the reality competition series, having recorded the song "Remind Me" with Idol's most successful country winner, Carrie Undewood, and toured with season 10 champ Scotty McCreery.