Top three earning men in prime-time are reality stars and producers: Cowell, Trump, Seacrest

While the top-earning TV shows may not be reality TV, the top-earning male prime-time TV stars are reality stars.

The three men who lead Forbes’ list are American Idol judge and America’s Got Talent producer Simon Cowell, who’s estimated earnings for June 1, 2008, to June 1, 2009, were $75 million; Apprentice blowhard Donald Trump, who made $50 million; and American Idol host and reality show producer Ryan Seacrest, who made $38 million.

All three are producers of reality series in addition to talent, which explains why they beat out #4 Charlie Sheen ($21 million) and #5 Steve Carrell ($20 million). At number six was Howie Mandel, who made $15 million thanks to his game show Deal or No Deal, and his dumb NBC prank reality series Howie Do It.

Last month, Forbes created a similar list for prime-time women, which was led by Tyra Banks and her $30 million a year, which would have made her #4 here.

Prime Time’s Top-Earning Men [Forbes]
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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.