Ashley issued his extraordinary statement after flying by helicopter to Newcastle's Darsley Park training ground at luncthime on Tuesday for his meeting with Shearer. But despite the sports retail tycoon's efforts a four-year contract remained unsigned and negotiations will re-start ton Wednesday.
'Seeing Newcastle United relegated from the Premier League has been a catastrophe for us all,' Ashley said. 'I fully accept that mistakes were made during this and previous seasons and I am very sorry for that.
'I would like to say sorry to our magnificent supporters who have turned up in their thousands, home and away, up and down the country and who have given the team amazing backing throughout.
'And I would also say sorry to all of the club's hard-working staff, who have gone about their jobs all year long.
'Bringing Alan Shearer back to Newcastle United was the best decision I have made. Alan and his staff did all they could to try and keep us up in the short space of time they had. Talks are now ongoing between us about how we can take this club forward again.'
Shearer, 38, was accompanied by No2 Iain Dowie in the talks, which initially began with club managing director Derek Llambias, who had earlier made it clear Ashley was desperate for the former skipper to take the reins.
That is despite Shearer's ill-fated reign that brought just one win in eight games following Joe Kinnear, whose short-term contract has also now expired.
'We want him [Shearer] to be the manager 110 per cent,' Llambias said. 'He's very good at what he does and he's a straight-talking guy – we like that. He'd be the perfect appointment.
'We are trying to sort something and we'll give the public information as soon as possible. Alan has put a lot of work into the job at Newcastle and we're talking to him now.'
Earlier, the former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, who was sacked by Ashley in January last year, took a swipe at his former paymasters. 'When I started off I said I was in it for the long haul and now I can hear Alan repeating the words. I said that it has to start from the bottom upwards and that the club has to be rebuilt from top to bottom,' he said.
'That is what I was in the process of doing in my short time there. We had the best start in 10 years when I was there. But it was rather unfortunate because it is a massive club and I wanted to try to manage a massive club and make them successful.
'But it didn't happen and I don't think that's got anything to do with my ability. It was just a bit of politics. Since then they've gone the wrong way very unfortunately but it's life and it will perhaps shock them into rebuilding the club. I have no doubt they will be back very quickly indeed.'