Jeff Lewis Says Jenni Pulos Reported Him for Abuse: 'It Put My Entire Career in Jeopardy'
Jeff Lewis has confirmed he’s fallen out with longtime friend and Flipping Out costar Jenni Pulos — and alleged that Pulos reported him for harassment to the production company and network behind their hit show.
Lewis, 48, addressed PEOPLE’s report that he and Pulos had gone their separate ways Friday on an emotional episode of his SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live. “It’s true,” the house flipper and designer said. “Jenni and I did have a fight which then resulted in a rift. … I haven’t spoken to her in three months.”
PEOPLE reported exclusively on Wednesday that Pulos and Lewis had ended their personal and professional relationship. Multiple sources said they had gotten into a fight during the filming of the upcoming eleventh season of Flipping Out and have been estranged since production wrapped.
According to Lewis, there’s more to their fallout. He said that Pulos allegedly reported him to Bravo and the show’s production company, Authentic Entertainment, for “abuse and victimization.”
Though “an extremely time-consuming” investigation ultimately cleared Lewis of “all abuse and victimization charges,” he said, Pulos “doubled down” on things Monday and apparently reported him “for wrongfully terminating her off her own show” while making “allegations of a hostile working environment.”
“Her making this claim, it put my entire career in jeopardy. My family, my livelihood, everything,” Lewis said, speculating that his Bravo show would likely be cancelled. “I just lost my job. I’m pretty sure of that. But I need to get in front of the story and I have to tell my side of the story. I’m a dead man walking, but I have to tell my story.”
“I would never do that to a friend of 15, 16 years,” he added. “I would never put someone – I love her family, I love her kids, she’s a godmother to my child, I would never do that to her.”
(Reps for Bravo and Pulos had no comment, while reps for Authentic Entertainment did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
That wasn’t the only bombshell Lewis dropped on Jeff Lewis Live listeners Friday.
He revealed that Pulos actually hasn’t officially worked for his company, Jeff Lewis Design, for years and is instead employed by the network.
“Jenni has not worked for me. She has not been working for me for several, several seasons. She is working for Bravo,” Lewis said, apologizing to viewers for misleading them on TV. “These are my employees, these are my clients, these are my houses, this is my life, but she is employed by Bravo. She shows up the day of filming, she leaves the day we are done filming. She doesn’t work for me seven months out of the year. She’s not on my payroll.”
Though he put up the facade for the show’s sake, Lewis said he realized at the end of the season that they should stop pretending. The realization came after Lewis brought former Real Housewives of Miami star Lea Black into the office to advise his employees about business and realized that there were “about three people” who “had other objectives” and didn’t want to work to help Lewis grow.
“I was actually very surprised to hear that Jenni was one of them,” said Lewis on the SiriusXM show. “She said she had given up her acting career to work for me and that really hurt my feelings because I felt like I have done nothing but accommodate her for her auditions and meetings and whatnot. And initially I was very hurt and I was put on the defense. I understand that she spends a lot of time with me. It’s very possible she hasn’t been able to go on certain auditions and maybe she hasn’t been able to have the opportunity of booking a movie or a show or whatever, but I have been very, very flexible.”
Lewis recalled he then gave Pulos “some unsolicited career advice,” resulting in fight while they were riding together in a car. He said the argument was “a little heated” but “silly” and “very much like the other fights we’d had before.”
“This fight was no different than any other fight in the 11 years on Flipping Out,” he said. “This fight, I never thought in a million years that would ever break us up. … This was no different than me yelling at a contractor for being late or someone causing me $5,000 of repairs.”
After the dust settled and the cameras went down, Lewis said that he and Pulos met to discuss their future together. Knowing that she was unhappy, Lewis said he told Pulos that she could leave his company on the show.
“We elected at the end of all this to have her move on from Jeff Lewis Design,” Lewis said on Jeff Lewis Live. “All of this was very civil, I thought. … I was the one that initiated that and I did it because I thought it really was the best for both of us. Because I don’t want to hold her back. I never want to hold her back. I want her to focus 100 percent of her energies on her projects. And if I want to take my business to the next level, I need somebody who is all in.”
“So this fight, or argument, it actually ended up yielding positive results,” Lewis continued. “We had lunch together, we talked it through. We made the decision. And even though she didn’t say, ‘I’m moving on’ — I’m the one that had to use those words — it looked like a sense of relief for both of us. This is what we had to do. I felt like it was a very successful meeting.”
But Lewis said he didn’t want Pulos off of Flipping Out, a show for which they’re both executive producers.
“I’m a businessman, I’m not stupid. I know you love Jenni, I love Jenni,” he told his radio listeners. “So I said to her, I said, ‘I don’t want you to leave the show. I want you to still be on the show with me. … I know the opportunities that come out of the show. Let’s make you a friend, which is our real life.’ I felt like it was a really good heart-to-heart. I felt good about this lunch. I said, ‘Let’s see what your role is next season, if there even is another season.’ That really was the end of our lunch.”
Their friendship “very well in tact” at the end of their lunch, Lewis said he felt confident the two would be able to still be successful together. “I was looking forward to, if there was a future, that she was by my side,” he said. “I really thought I came up with the best solution which is you still get to be on the show, you’re still cashing your checks, you still get to be on TV, and you have all this time to pursue your other goals and dreams.”
Then, Lewis heard about the first complaint — which he alleged was made by Pulos before he and she had sat down for lunch.
From the sound of it, there was no turning back..
“If you are looking for a reality star, I am officially out of work. I’m available,” he said Friday. “I’m pretty sure they’re not going to keep picking up Flipping Out if she’s not on the show. And she’s not on the show.”
Flipping Out season 11 premieres Sept. 11 (at 10:15 p.m) on Bravo.
Jeff Lewis Live airs Fridays (11 a.m. ET) on SiriusXM Radio Andy (Ch. 102).