Their jobs may not be “real” but their paychecks certainly are! Judging, feuding, fighting, and showmancing on reality TV can result in lots of cold hard cash. Here’s OK!’s guide to the genre’s top earners.
The Sun Military Awards 2014
Simon Cowell, $95 million: Being rude sure pays off! TV's most famous nasty judge, who made American Idol a hit after first conquering his native Britain, launched the U.S. version of The X Factor in 2011 and earns an unbelievable $95 million a year from it. The massive money comes to Cowell because he produces and co-owns the show as well as judging.
Howard Stern, $15 million: The radio shock jock's judge stint on the family-friendly show America's Got Talent has been very lucrative. NBC moved the summer reality show back east starting in 2012 to accommodate Stern -- and according to TV Guide, bigwigs also gave him a whopping $15 million a year to evaluate singers, dancers, jugglers and comedians.
Ryan Seacrest in Times Square during New Year's Eve 2014
Ryan Seacrest, $15 million: American Idol judges have come and gone, but the show's host Seacrest is the veteran on the FOX reality show. Seacrest reportedly rakes in $15 million a year to shout "THIS is American Idol!," babysit the contestants and spar with the judges. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Seacrest's salary as Idol host tripled in 2009 from $5 million to $15 million.
The American Music Awards 2013 arrivals
Christina Aguilera, $12.5 million: After taking off the show's fourth season to launch her album Lotus, Aguilera reportedly got a raise to resume her judge's seat—The Wrap claimed she inked a $12.5 million deal for her return. Gwen Stefani has also filled in, but Xtina showed she's the queen bee — by making more than her fellow judge/mentors!
Adam Levine arrives at NBC's 'The Voice' Season 7 Top 5 Red Carpet
Adam Levine, $10-12 million: According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Maroon 5 frontman is paid $10-12 million by NBC per cycle of The Voice. Along with his other business ventures, Levine earns more than $35 million a year! His secret to success? "I don't lie. And that's unusual in a world of f***ing liars," Levine has said.
The Kardashians celebrate Khloe's birthday on a yacht in NYC
The Kardashians, $10 million: It's hard to keep up with the Kardashians' pay grade! In summer 2012, the family signed a deal for $30 million to star in three more seasons of E!'s Keeping Up With The Kardashians. A lot of Kardashians and Jenners are splitting the $10 million per season, however. According to Forbes, Kim Kardashian is the highest-paid woman in reality TV, earning $18 million a year— but most of that is from endorsement deals and NOT the family reality shows!
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban arrive at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles, CA
Keith Urban, $5 million: Baby, you're a rich man! Nicole Kidman's country star husband, who's known for calling American Idol's lady contestants "baby," takes home $5 million for his judging efforts.
NBC's 'The Voice' Season 7 Top 5 Finalist Red Carpet Event
Blake Shelton, $4 million: A TV Guide salary survey said the country singer hauls in $4 million per cycle of The Voice.
Celebrities arrive at the 3rd annual Jingle Ball concert in Washington DC
Demi Lovato: $2 million: Although The X Factor's ratings have been a bust, judge Lovato endeared herself to viewers in 2012 and kept her job, while the show dumped.
'The X Factor' judges
Paulina Rubio, $1.5 million: When The X Factor was looking for some Latin flair, the show turned to Mexican singer-actress Rubio, who already cut her judge's teeth on La Voz Kids, a Spanish-language kids' version of The Voice airing on Telemundo. And according to the Hollywood Reporter, Rubio got $1.5 million to spar with Simon Cowell.
'Think Like A Man Too' Premiere in LA
Kelly Rowland, $1 million: The Hollywood Reporter said that the former Destiny's Child singer landed a $1 million contract for her hosting duties on The X Factor. The star reportedly earned about $750,000 for her one-season stint on X Factor U.K. in 2011, so she got a raise for the U.S. Version.
'The Real House Wives of Atlanta' star NeNe Leakes dines out with a male companion at Mr Chow in Beverly Hills, CA
NeNe Leakes, $1 million plus: According to reports, Leakes is most expensive real housewife of all, bringing in a cool $1 million per season — plus bonuses! The flamboyant Real Housewives of Atlanta star, who also nabbed a Bravo wedding special, I Dream of NeNe, has bragged, "Housewives does really well because of NeNe Leakes and what I have to say." Indeed, the Atlanta version of housewives is the highest rated of the franchise.
EXCLUSIVE: Teresa Giudice makes first public appearance since legal troubles began
Teresa Giudice, $700,000: The Real Housewives of New Jersey star banked $700,000 for her latest season, but that money is only a drop in the bucket compared to the legal fees and more than $400,000 in restitution she owes in connection with her fraud conviction.
Bravo Upfront 2012 Celeb Arrivals in NYC
Vicki Gunvalson, $500,000: The Real Housewives of Orange County star has called herself the original housewife as the Orange County version on Bravo was the very first. And Gunvalson's Bravo loyalty means a fat $500,000 paycheck per season, OK! Magazine reported. Gunvalson plans on bringing in the big bucks for the foreseeable future, insisting, "I don't believe I'll ever not have a story. I'm Vicki Gunvalson. I'm not boring."
3rd Annual ASCAP ATL Legends Dinner
Kandi Burruss, $450,000: Being on The Real Housewives of Atlanta has paid off big time for the singer/music producer, who also got her own spinoff, The Kandi Factory, on Bravo. She also runs a sex toy company called Bedroom Kandi.
Reality Stars at Rolls Royce Brunch in the Hamptons
Tamra Barney Judge, $600,000: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills blonde, who got married for the third time on Bravo's recent special, Tamra's OC Wedding, has called herself the "hottest" housewife. And love her or hate her, viewers are definitely watching! Her ex Simon claimed she makes $50,000 per month in recently filed court documents.
Exclusive: Joe Gorga and Melissa Gorga's exclusive home portaits
Melissa Gorga, $350,000: Teresa Giudice's sexy sister-in-law constantly stirs the pot on The Real Housewives of New Jersey and it's meant a great job for Gorga! She has parlayed her TV reality success into a planned book on how to maintain a sexy marriage (which she does with her TV co-star husband, Joe).
The Primary Wave 9th Annual Pre-Grammy party - West Hollywood, California
Gretchen Rossi: $300,000: Rossi's showmance with The Real Housewives of Orange County co-star Slade Smiley has finally resulted in an engagement, and the beautiful blonde's bank account is looking as good as her love life thanks to a six figure season salary, OK! Magazine reported.
Snooki, $1.95 million: Snooki was once one of the highest paid reality stars at $1.95 million a season for Jersey Shore. But now, the mom of two makes ends meet by running an Etsy craft store!