The 50-year-old recording executive and TV personality is a judge on Fox network's "American Idol." He's also known for the "Got Talent" and "X Factor" franchises.
International Academy President Bruce Paisner says Cowell "has built an international empire and in so doing has changed the face of television around the world."
Cowell will receive the award at a New York gala on Nov. 22. He said in a statement Thursday that he's "delighted," and has been "very lucky to be able to make shows that I love."