Dead on “LIVE!”, REGIS PHILBIN sharpens his barbed wit for payback!

Regis is getting back at everyone who said he was too old for televi­sion by taking on a brand-new project – at age 81. The former “Live with Regis and Kelly” host is returning to the small screen on a new sports program, and he’s determined to prove he’s still got what it takes to deliver ratings gold.

Sources say he particularly wants to stick it to the “Live” execs who prodded him to give up his plum day job in November 2011.

“Regis desperately wants to prove the naysayers wrong,” said a source. “When he left ‘Live,’ a lot of people were saying his best days were behind him and he wasn’t worth the money they were paying him.

“The bosses at ‘Live’ wanted to see someone younger paired with Kelly Ripa.”

But as retired football star Michael Strahan settled in next to Kelly, Regis – who’s suffered numerous health woes – began taking small TV jobs. He played Betty White’s love interest on TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland.” He also filled in for Hoda Kotb on NBC’s “Today” show and as guest host for Piers Morgan on his CNN talk show.

AND now he has a full-time gig as the host of “Crowd Goes Wild,” a live, roundtable panel discussion about sports on the new FOX Sports 1 cable network, beginning Aug. 19.

According to the source, Regis huffed to a pal: “I’ll show them who’s over the hill!”