American Idol
Nine former contestants are taking legal action against American idolclaiming that they were forced off the show because of their race.

American Idol is at the centre of a racism row after nine black former contestants claimed that they were all forced off the show as part of a racist plan to boost ratings.

The singers, from various seasons, are preparing to take legal action against the hit talent show which they say "permanently and severely impaired" their personal and professional lives.

Corey Clark, Jaered Andrews, Donnie Williams, brothers Terrell Brittenum and Derrell Brittenum,Thomas Daniels, Akron Watson, Ju'Not Joyner and Chris Golightly insisted that they were targeted by producers of the Fox show who set out to humiliate them by making them audition and then disqualifying them due to their criminal records.

New York attorney James Freeman, has submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seeking permission to sue producers behind the hit talent show on behalf of his nine clients.

Freeman claims that after Jermaine Jones was axed in 2012 in relation to outstanding warrants for his arrest, he investigated the show and discovered that producers had only ever publicly disqualified nine people, and they were all black.

In the document, which has been obtained by editors at Tmz.com, Freeman states American Idol violated California employment laws which ban bosses from asking potential employees about their arrest history, as the men were essentially seeking employment.

American Idol boss Nigel Lythgoe has branded the allegations as ridiculous.

He insisted that the show treats "everybody the same... no matter the race, religion or sex.

"I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

American Idol returned for its 12th season earlier this month, with a judging panel consisting of Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson.