The broadcaster said that cost-cutting work and an increase in its share of a declining advertising market had led to a pre-tax profit of £25m in 2009, compared with a loss of £2.7bn in 2008.
The plan to axe pop mogul Cowell, along with other senior ITV stars, is part of a plan to change programming and achieve additional cost savings under new Chief Executive Adam Crozier, who takes up the role on 26 April.
The new show, 'The Axe Factor', will head up ITV's revised prime-time Saturday schedule. Members of the public will audition for the right to bury a hatchet into Cowell's face, with a judging panel assessing their efforts for technical merit, depth of penetration, style and distribution of brain matter.
The show's 12-week run will be fronted by ITV stalwarts Ant and Dec - at least until week 11, when they will also face the axe.
Sources for the troubled channel said that they were considering which other 'celebrities' from their stable should face the axe, but added that it was difficult to do so because absolutely everything they produce, ever, is fronted solely by Ant and fucking Dec. However, they confirmed that Louis Walsh, Piers Morgan and anyone who's been on 'Dancing on Ice' or 'I'm a Celebrity...' would all be prime material. The BBC have also offered Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr.
Former 'I'm A Celebrity...' winner and celebrity slut Katie Price said that she would welcome the chance to appear on the new programme, as it's nowhere near the first time she'll have taken a chopper in the face.