Simon Cowell Tops TV Earners With $75 Million

“Idol” host/producer leads Forbes list of primetime’s top-earning men.

Last Updated: November 11, 2009 @ 6:15 AM

Simon Cowell is more than just the meanest man in prime-time television, he’s also the best paid.

In an industry hammered by changing viewer habits and dwindling advertising dollars, the 50-year-old Brit and his Fox juggernaut American Idol continue to score record ratings and big money. Though the singing competition’s viewership has slid in recent years, it still managed to round out last season with an average weekly audience of 27 million, making it the most-watched series in prime time. And like Cowell’s fellow top earners, the host you love to loathe has found several avenues to cash in, including judging, producing and music publishing. His total haul between June 1, 2008, and June 1, 2009: $75 million.

Read more from Forbes.