The BBC is overpaying stars who would work for the corporation regardless of salary, veteran presenter Terry Wogan has said in a book of essays about TV.
The BBC has said high salaries are essential for "absolutely key talent"
It felt this was necessary to avoid talent being lured away "with honeyed words and equally large sums," he said.
Wogan, reputed to earn £800,000 a year at Radio 2, also accused TV companies of "buying talent instead of ideas".
Meanwhile he dedicated his breakfast show on Monday to his late producer Paul Walters, who died on Saturday.
The DJ described him as a "a great friend" and "a great producer", and thanked listeners for "thousands" of emails of condolence.
"How wonderful that he touched so many of you," said Wogan.
He began the programme by playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy, a singer championed by Walters, who had been ill for some time.
Extracts from the book on TV, Shooting Stars, were printed in the Sunday Telegraph.
In one essay, Wogan, 68, said stars were being signed by the BBC with no clear idea of what to do with them.
"You might say the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
"The culture now in television is that the presenter calls the financial and, increasingly, the creative shots. It is comparable to what happened in Hollywood 15 or so years ago."
He went on: "Agents have become far more powerful, and through them the stars are able to dictate their own terms."
Without identifying any particular celebrities, Wogan described his employer as "often giving huge quantities of money to people who would prefer to work for the corporation anyway".
And he added: "We can all name stars who have been persuaded to cross over from BBC to ITV, and it has ended in tears."
There has been controversy this year about the wages of top BBC personalities, following the leak of documents purporting to show salary levels within the corporation.
There has been controversy about the salary of Jonathan Ross
Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles was said to be earning £630,000 a year, with Jonathan Ross on £540,000 for his weekly Radio 2 programme.
Ross was also reported to have signed an £18m three-year contract for work across the corporation.
But in July, the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, said that high salaries were required in order to secure the best deal for "absolutely key talent".
He told MPs that he would not apologise because a BBC without big names would not please the public.