Simon Cowell could be the $144 million man.
The "American Idol" judge, known for his withering critiques of hapless amateur crooners, is negotiating a new deal with Fox. He reportedly made $36 million last year, but the network is offering him three or four times that amount -- between $100 million and $144 million per year -- to stick around after his contract expires next May, according to The Guardian, a London newspaper.
Fox declined yesterday to comment about the salary negotiations. The show earns a reported $900 million a year, and Cowell is the undisputed star with his trademark sniping at co-hosts and scathing reviews of performers.
According to The Guardian, he has his pal, UK retail magnate Sir Philip Green, negotiating the terms of what would be a new "Idol" contract.
"Idol" recently finished its eighth season, with Kris Allen edging out Adam Lambert in the most contested final vote in the show's history. More than 100 million votes were cast, according to the show, which airs twice a week. Ratings for the 2009 season were down slightly, but the Wednesday show, in which results are aired, was first in its time slot. The Tuesday show, in which performances are aired, was second.