Jeff Lewis and Jenni Pulos' Final Words About Their Friendship on the Flipping Out Finale
The end of Jeff Lewis and Jenni Pulos‘ nearly 20-year professional and personal relationship finally played out for viewers on Tuesday’s season 11 finale of Flipping Out. And though each has since expressed a difference of opinion about the circumstances of what went wrong, both Lewis and Pulos appeared to agree on one thing: that they were afraid of a future without the other.
“It’s scary,” Lewis, 49, confessed to cameras, as a montage of their best moments together over the years played. “I’m used to her being the one next to me for the last dozen years. The idea of changing that was scary to me. But I felt like I needed to do this for her and for me.”
“Some people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I thought it was going to be a lifetime, but I’m grateful to him for so many things,” added Pulos, 45, separately. “So… it’s scary, the future, when you don’t know and you’ve had such a history.”
In September, PEOPLE broke the news that Lewis and Pulos had parted ways, with sources saying that a blowout fight had come to a head.
On the finale, viewers got to see the argument play out for the cameras. It happened after Pulos said she had sacrificed her acting career to work for Lewis, knowing that going on auditions would mean she wouldn’t be available to fulfill her obligations at Jeff Lewis Design.
One of those opportunities included an offer to film a part in an unnamed Nicolas Cage movie.
“Last year I was asked to be on tape and it was a very final audition with an offer and I didn’t do it because it was going to be two weeks out,” Pulos said. “I believe I would have gotten that role. … I should have come to you and said, ‘Hey, I might need to leave for two weeks, is this cool?’ But instead I just said no to it.”
Lewis debated that, saying he always encouraged Pulos’ acting endeavors and would have given her time if she had asked. “I won’t buy into that somehow you turned down a career as an actress but this job is holding you back. I’m not subscribing to any of that,” he said. “I think you’re ashamed of being my assistant.”
“This is the first I’ve heard you say about [that movie], which is why I don’t believe you,” he added. “I believe you would have come to me and I think you would have tried to make it work… I absolutely, for the record, think you are lying.”
Pulos was frustrated by Lewis’ suggestion. “You’ve always minimized my acting,” she said. “It’s what you love to do and I’m so over it. Since the day I met you: ‘You should host, you’re not this, you can’t do this, your rapping’s stupid’ — all the stuff you’ve said along the years. You just want to cut me down and that’s the part that’s really [upsetting].”
“I’m done. If that’s what you think I am, then don’t be around me,” she continued. “I’ll walk away. This will all continue without me. I don’t need to be here. I don’t want to be in this environment if that’s who somebody really thinks I am.”
She told audiences: “I thought that I could trust him with some of the dreams that I had, but I’m tired of the mocking. I’m tired of the, ‘Your dreams are stupid.’ Usually I can compartmentalize and try to be professional, but I felt like I had been hit by a 2×4. It was the personal attack that hit me. It was the, ‘Oh man. This is who he thinks I really am.’ I believe he maybe didn’t mean all of it, but because we’ve had a history, it’s hard to know that as his core, this is who he thought I was. And that’s heartbreaking.”
Days later, with tempers cooled, the two came face-to-face at a restaurant for a chat about their friendship.
After hugging, Lewis quickly apologized to Pulos. “I feel really bad about what I did, what I said, and how I acted,” he explained. “I was hurt… but… now, I understand where you were coming from. I certainly didn’t mean to embarrass you. I really am sorry.”
“I do want you to know that I do believe in you and I believe in your talent. I do think that you are going to accomplish everything you want to accomplish,” he added. “I don’t think you’re a liar.”
Pulos thanked Lewis for the apology. “My thing is, I just don’t want you to ever go there with anyone. Not just me, with anyone,” she said. “I felt minimized. I don’t know if you realize how many things you said that were so hurtful. And I want you, as a father, to not ever say that somebody’s dreams or what they have are stupid. Because they’re not.”
She also made it clear that she didn’t regret working with Lewis. “I think where I was most hurt is that you would think I would never care about your business,” she said. “That’s kind of what hurt me to my core. I don’t want you to ever think I didn’t want to be there. That’s not true and you have to believe me.”
Lewis said he did believe her, and praised Pulos for being loyal, committed, and helping him build his business. But in the end, he told her that he couldn’t help but worry that he was holding her back from her acting dreams — stressing how important it was for him to have staff who were fully committed to helping him grow his company.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is I think it’s time to move on,” he said. “I think it’s time for you to move on and I’m eternally grateful to you because I would not be here if it were not for you. … I feel like you need to focus 100 percent on your career.”
To that, Pulos simply said, “Okay.”
Since then, Lewis and Pulos haven’t spoken. In September, on his SiriusXM radio show, Lewis claimed that Pulos hadn’t worked for him for “years” and that their working relationship had been faked for the show. He also alleged that Pulos filed claims of wrongful termination, abuse and victimization against him.
She vehemently denied that earlier this month when speaking out about the fight for the first time in a recent issue of PEOPLE. “Citing wrongful termination claim, wrong. Citing abuse claim, wrong. Citing victimization claim, wrong,” Pulos said. “[Our relationship] was very real. I was his employee and I worked for him. It was very authentic, and that’s important.”
The mother of two added that she was blindsided when he let her go from Jeff Lewis Design. “I had no idea it was coming,” Pulos said.
As of Tuesday, Flipping Out had not yet been renewed for a twelfth season. Lewis said on Jeff Lewis Live that his contract with Bravo was not renewed before an Oct. 15 deadline. He later clarified that his contract’s expiration doesn’t necessarily mean the show had been canceled.
A rep for Bravo tells PEOPLE no official decision has been made.