CNN news anchor ANDERSON COOPER has secretly gone behind his boyfriend’s back and hired a for­mer flame to produce his talk show!

The silver-haired newsman recently invited ex-lover Terence Noonan to co-executive produce “Anderson” in the hope that he could boost the show’s lagging ratings.

But the decision has left his staff whispering about how it will affect his relationship with his boyfriend of two years, Manhattan bar owner Ben Maisani, 38, who had no idea what Anderson was up to!

“Everyone who works on ‘Anderson’ thinks it was crazy of him to hire this guy,” a TV industry insider told The ENQUIRER.

“Not that he isn’t qualified for the job – he is. He was supervising producer on ‘Dr. Oz,’ which was beating the pants off of ‘Anderson’ in the ratings. So Anderson went and poached from the competition.

“But  it’s very unseemly to hire a guy who was a former lover…especially one who still brags about it!”

Terence, a four-time Daytime Emmy winner who created the TLC show “DC Cupcakes,” was one of the judges of the “Mr. Gay USA” contest in Philadelphia last year. Insiders describe him as “very flamboyant, openly gay and currently in a relationship.”

“His fling with Anderson took place years ago, long before Cooper met Ben,” noted the insider.

One way Terence, 41, hopes to in­crease ratings is to get his former boyfriend to “come out of the closet,” added the insider.

“But Anderson has steadfastly resisted.”

When asked about his sexuality, Anderson, 44, said: “I just don’t talk about my personal life. It’s a decision I made a long time ago.”