Howie Mandel did everything but drop to his knees ... begging Nick Cannon to return as host of "America's Got Talent."
Howie -- 1 of 4 judges on the talent show -- made a passionate plea Sunday at LAX. Howie's pretty damn adamant -- Nick's the heart and soul of the show.
TMZ broke the story ... Nick quit 'AGT' after learning NBC was on the verge of firing him for a harmless joke he made on Showtime.
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