Simon 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?"