05/03/2013 at 06:00 PM EDT
Harry Connick Jr. is leaving the door open for a big possibility – becoming a future judge on American Idol
What's it going to take to place him in the hot seat? "$600 million," Connick, whose new record is due June 11, joked with reporters backstage after his turn as guest mentor on Thursday's show.
He could learn a few things from Mariah Carey
's shrewd negotiations for her salary of
$18 million. Forbes
magazine estimated this season's payroll alone to be $54 million. Last season, judge Jennifer Lopez took home
"She's a lot better looking than I am, though," Connick, 45, cracked about Carey, also noting that it's a tough task to be candid and still offer constructive criticism to the aspirants on the show.
"I think you need to be completely honest, and I think you need to be diplomatic," said the New Orleans native and father of three. "I think there's no reason to be mean, but it's called being a judge."
And while, like fellow musician and longtime Idol
judge Randy Jackson, he could gab about the intricacies of songs for hours.
"I like getting real technical, but nobody likes to hear that," Connick said. "I think there's a balance where you can just touch on specifics and technical things but speak in a way that the audience can understand, because most people aren't trained musicians."