From high-rolling music executive, to TV producer to big time philanthropist; quintessential Brit Simon Cowell is a man famous as much for his wit as he is for wearing his trousers near his armpits. He is worth an impressive (and slightly baffling) $550 million — net worth.

What Cowell has in abundance — as well as solid business acumen — is charisma that sells to the public. It’s not hard to see the appeal of the guy; especially when he’s cast as a judge on reality TV contents such as: Pop Idol, The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, and the American TV talent competition shows American Idol, among others — and goes on to inject some hilarious gags into the mix.

The sums of cash he must pull in from appearing as the cutthroat judge who tells it like it is, would be anyone’s guess, and we’d guess the figures are jaw-droppingly high.
Now consider the fact that these reality TV shows are such a hit, producers just keep on knocking them out year after year. And that’s only part of his income; some would even say a sideline to his actual business of developing musical talent.

The London-born lad did have a parental lift-up. He first got involved in the music industry after, like most people, doing a series of disinteresting jobs as a young adult, then went to work for his dad who was an exec at EMI Music Publishing. Then he took his own path — which paid dividends.

Since taking that gamble, Cowell has been recorded as earning as much as $95 million in a year, which would have come mostly from his TV production and music publishing house Syco. And then there’s bands such as One Direction which he bet his dollar on in an attempt to launch them to mega fame.

That definitely worked, as they’ve been one of the highest earning bands in the world for some time now. Speaking of time; Time magazine have twice named Cowell in their list of 100 most influential people in the world — such is the witty man’s power and influence (which usually translates into monetary wealth, at some point).

Cowell’s chosen industry, he reckons, has been helped by the way we all connect through social media, he once said: ‘For the music business, social networking is brilliant. Just when you think it's doom and gloom and you have to spend millions of pounds on marketing and this and that, you have this amazing thing now called fan power. The whole world is linked through a laptop. It's amazing. And it's free. I love it. It's absolutely brilliant.’

It’s a fair point, who knows how much of One Direction’s success is down to the internet-age where they can reach hundreds of millions of crazed young fans, which then translates into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Hard to imagine now that Cowell once sold exercise videos as part of Fanfare Records, which he’d set up with Iain Burton. From VHS exercise videos; to the social media age. Quite a difference and shows that he is a businessman and character who can clearly adapt to his environment to earn a fortune.

Another testament to this statement is the fact that in 1989 Simon Cowell nearly went bankrupt. Not a bad comeback there, sir.