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Simon Cowell

Saves 9

On Sinking Ship

8/31/2012 5:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0831_simon_cowell_akmgsiSimon Cowell's richness is the reason 9 people are safe today ... because he used his yacht as a lifeboat to save 9 people on a sinking ship.

Simon was soaking in the sun with his ex-girlfriend on their mega-boat in St. Tropez when someone on board heard a distress call from a nearby, much-lesser vessel. 

Simon ordered his captain to find the 35-foot boat that was sinking fast. The captain sprung into action and rescued the 9 souls. 

The 35-footer was also saved after the crew on Simon's yacht plugged the hole.

Will Simon now help plug the hole on "American Idol?"

Probably not.

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