Empire creator Lee Daniels says his best friend Mariah Carey isn’t really the diva she portrays on stage.

Daniels, who honored the Grammy-winning singer at the GLAAD Media Awards last week, discussed public perception of her Wednesday on Bevelations.

“Here’s the thing. She is very fragile, you know? And she has been through a lot. She has been used, she has been abused. Some people don’t have that Teflon sort of thing that I do, so she masks it with this coquettish thing that is hiding her nervousness and her pain and her own family’s abuse to her,” said Daniels, 56. “She is misunderstood, because she is really, really ride or die. She really, really, really will do anything for you.”

The stars became close friends during their early years in Hollywood, and he directed her in his films Tennessee, Precious and The Butler.

“I’ve seen how people attack her,” he added. “They are mean to her. People try to start stuff between her, and she plays into it, but it’s all a joke. There’s only one person that she don’t like for real for real.”

“Nicki Minaj,” said Bevy Smith, pointing to Mimi’s on-screen beef with the rapper during their stints as American Idol judges. (On Watch What Happens Live recently, Carey, 46, told Andy Cohen she’s decided to “stay above the fray.”)

“I won’t go into that,” Daniels said, laughing.

How does he feel about her upcoming reality show Mariah’s World? Listen to the clip below to hear how he unwittingly filmed scenes for the project — and doesn’t think it’s a “wise idea.”

“I think that the true geniuses have to be saved from themselves sometimes. But I have no problem telling her, ‘What are you doing?’ and she listens, too,” he said. “I’m going to read her for filth, first of all for tricking my ass up in here.”

“You thought it was going to be a documentary. You thought it was gonna to be in Cannes, darling, now it’s just gonna be on E!” cracked Smith, 49.

Bevelations airs live weekdays fro 5-6 pm ET on SiriusXM Radio Andy (Ch. 102).

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