A host of names have been linked to the post including former Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards and the All Blacks' World Cup winning coach Graham Henry.
But Carling, who holds the record for winning the most caps as England captain, believes former Italy coach Mallett, who guided the Azzurri to a first ever RBS 6 Nations win over France last year, is the man for the job.
"Mallett is my top choice and I think he would be extremely good," said Carling.
"Henry is very good, a very likeable guy, but he has just done it with his own country and I'm not sure he has the edge to do it.
"We need someone who needs to do it for the first time.
"Martin Johnson is an unbelievable player, an unbelievable captain and he was all about winning.
"He is stubborn which is one of his strengths as well and if he is going to be told who is going to be on his coaching team he may well say 'I'm not interested'."