British tabloid newspaper News of the World reported that Barrymore, who moved to Auckland in 2004 with boyfriend Shaun Davis, signed on the dotted line for the Channel 4 show just before Christmas.
The couple were granted residency in March 2004, and at the time Barrymore said: "I can't think of a more fantastic place to be able to settle."
Yesterday the British newspaper quoted a Big Brother insider: "The producers were desperate to secure him and delighted he agreed ... After lots of negotiations, they reassured him that the show was the best platform for him to relaunch his career."
A spokeswoman for Pacific Entertainment, which handles Barrymore's New Zealand career, was unaware of any dealings between the star and Channel 4.
She said Barrymore was in the United Kingdom for a break with his family and was expected back in New Zealand some time this month.
Barrymore shocked the British public in 1995 when he walked into a London gay bar and announced, "Start spreading the news, I'm gay today".
The 53-year-old received a media roasting in 2001 after the body of 31-year-old Stuart Lubbock was found floating in his swimming pool after a party at his home.
He left Britain amid speculation that he was fleeing a 1.4 million ($3.83 million) tax bill.