OPRAH WINFREY’s best pal GAYLE KING is so desperate to find a man that she’s become a hungry cougar — booking hunky younger men on her new show in the hopes they’ll ask her out!

“It’s no secret that Gayle is very lonely and wants a serious relationship,” a show insider revealed. “But everything she’s tried so far has blown up in her face.”

As THE ENQUIRER reported in March, Gayle turned to high-priced Beverly Hills matchmaker Orly Hadida for help finding love.

Orly told The ENQUIRER that Gayle initially said she wanted to find a man like Oprah’s boyfriend, Stedman Graham. But Gayle failed to click with any of Orly’s matches.

“Now Gayle isa desperate cougar,” said the insider. In an effort to turn her luck around, Gayle, 56, invited “Real Steel” actor Anthony Mackie, 32, to appear on “The Gayle King Show” in mid-October. The show airs on Oprah's OWN network.

“Gayle was shamelessly flirting with Anthony on the show, and afterward she practically begged him to take her to dinner,” the insider said. “She pouted and said, ‘No one wants to take me out!’

“Anthony, being a gentleman, quickly responded that he would be proud to take her out,” the insider continued. “Gayle got excited and out to dinner they went.”

Since she succeeded in getting a date with Anthony, Gayle is looking for other eligible young hunks to book on her show. Said the insider: “As Gayle’s casting people like to say, ‘The cougar is on the prowl!’”