Simon Cowell could command a salary of $108 million to $144 million if he continues with American Idol beyond the coming season, according to a British newspaper.
Cowell, who serves as the most polarizing — and thus the most entertaining — judge on the Fox hit has been offered "three to four times" his current annual appearance fee of $36 million, a source close to Idol executive producer Simon Fuller tells the U.K.'s The Guardian.
Read how Ryan Seacrest keeps Idol pitch-perfect
A Fox spokesperson declined to comment for TVGuide.com on the status of Cowell's contract, which ends after Season 9 (premiering January 2010).
If true — and Newsday
, for one, dismisses the rumored nine-figure payday as "impossible" — Cowell's salary would represent nearly one-sixth of the $900 million the Guardian estimates Idol rakes in each season.
Cowell has hinted in recent interviews that as he becomes increasingly busy, one of his current gigs — The X Factor
, Britain's Got Talent
—might need to fall by the wayside. Similar to his pact with 19 Entertainment and Fox, Cowell's contract with ITV (the producer of X Factor
) expires this year.
Review TVGuide.com's complete Idol coverage
Talk of Cowell's Idol future comes as fellow judges Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi hammer out their own deals to sit at the dais for the coming season. The judges' presence will be required at the Season 9 audition sites as early as August.
What's your take, Idol worshippers? Is Simon's certain je ne sais quoi worth $144 mil?