Flipping Out’s Jeff Lewis :: ’I’m an asshole’
While the economy's downturn helped morph Jeff Lewis's business from house flipping to home design, the dry-witted and sardonic Lewis continues to headline Bravo hit series "Flipping Out", now in its fifth season. In past years the series focused more on Lewis's professional life than personal, this new season opens things up a bit more now that Lewis is dating one of his employees.
What else is to come on the new "Flipping Out" season? Will Jeff's loyal, rappin' assistant Jenni Pulos find love? How many people are going to get fired (and, yes, people are getting canned this season)? And what has the self-proclaimed asshole learned from watching himself on television? EDGE's Jim Halterman jumped on a press call with the fabulous bantering stylings of Lewis and Pulos to find out all the "Flipping Out" scoop.
A workplace dramedy
EDGE: Every year when I do these calls I always ask Jeff when we’re going to see some romance. Now you guys are giving me everything I’ve ever asked for!
Jeff Lewis: Yes, but you’re not going to see sex scenes. I mean, let me just tell you that right now. That’s where I draw the line.
EDGE: Was that in your contract, Jeff?
Jeff Lewis: I view this as kind of a workplace dramedy, you know, most of the action happens between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm. That’s when we film and I’m not comfortable with, you know, diving too deep in my personal life; but I didn’t even want go there with the show.
But Gage, my partner works with me and there was really no way we could film around him because he’s such a big part of this business now. So it was either give up the show or open this part of my life up. I didn’t really want to lie and say this person is an employee but we’re not dating. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that either.
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Watch this interview with Jenni Pulos:
A balancing act
EDGE: It sounds like if you guys have problems in the relationship that there’s no way it won’t come into the office and vice versa, right?
Jeff Lewis: I agree. I mean it’s kind of difficult. It’s like a balancing act, really, because I don’t take things so personally. Like if something goes on at work, after hours I can just let things go. But my partner isn’t necessarily like that and sometimes if we had a disagreement at work that does carry over after hours and that’s difficult to handle. So, yes, you can’t really get around that stuff. I mean, you’ll notice.
EDGE: Jenni, what are we going to see from you this season in terms of your romantic life?
Jenni Pulos: A lot of nothing. No, you will see a lot. There’s a lot of drama this year. Within the workplace, a big surprise for Zoila....
Jeff Lewis: You just evaded the question, by the way. Just so you know. That wasn’t your question right?
EDGE: She totally did.
Jeff Lewis: Yes. We all caught that. You’re not getting away with that.
Jenni Pulos: You don’t see any of my personal life. That’s the answer. And like we said, this is a workplace dramedy so it’s not about my personal life. It was but my ex-husband doesn’t work here anymore.
Jeff Lewis: She’s dating somebody and guess what? He has a job, which is a real improvement over the last one.
Jenni Pulos: He does, he has a job and he’s a nice man.
Jeff Lewis: He’s a doctor.
EDGE: Jeff, were you hesitant to date another person that you work with?
Jeff Lewis: Actually it was the reverse. I was dating someone (Gage) who had his own business. And then, he was in the garment industry so it didn’t really make sense. He could’ve continued that or he could’ve gone into another industry. But I needed help and it actually worked out really well. So I would say that with all the opportunities and all the leads that he’s had and everything that he’s generated. I would say my income’s gone up at least 20%. I mean it was a position that I needed filled. And I had been hesitating and it actually just really worked out. So just to clarify I was dating first and then I brought him into the business. I didn’t really date employees until now.
EDGE: It also looks like with this season there’s some staff problems...?
Jeff Lewis: I think one of the reasons why Jenni and I have been together so long is that we both know nothing comes easy. We work really, really hard and we don’t expect to have something the next day. It takes years and years and years to achieve what we’re trying to achieve. And these kids that come out of school today, they’re impatient, they’re entitled [and] they’re not willing to put in the work. A lot of them too are willing to just screw you over in three seconds and that’s, that’s something that’s scary really. Because then who can you trust?
EDGE: I heard that two employees get fired this season. Can you kind of give us a hint as to who they are? Or do you still maintain a relationship with them?
Jeff Lewis: I will tell you that one is very expected; then completely out of the blue something happens. And the other one is completely unexpected, which really turned the office upside down and that happens right around mid-season. And now we’re kind of scrambling over here because we’re still filming and I’m trying to fill their spots. So you’ll have to watch...
EDGE: Jeff, I was wondering, watching yourself each week on the show. What have you learned about yourself? I mean do you kind of look at yourself and the way you handle things?
Jeff Lewis: I learned that I’m an asshole. That’s what I’ve learned. Honestly, I think what was the bigger impact was when the market fell and the flipping business came to a complete screeching halt and I had to start working for clients. And I didn’t have the money that I had in the previous years. That was really the biggest dose of humility and I think that’s what gave me a little bit more empathy and little bit more sympathy for people. When I look back it was probably one of the best experiences now that I’m out of the woods.
EDGE: Do you think there are any negatives for your business being on television?
Jeff Lewis: The only thing is that I do have a lot of clients and I would say that at least half of them don’t want to be on TV. So that actually creates a little bit of a problem for me because I have to push them back to when we’re not filming or I have to see them only on weekends and evenings. So actually I end up working longer hours and more days to service these clients outside of the filming because we film from 9:00 to 7:00 everyday. That’s the only thing that’s a little difficult. But otherwise in regards to this being on the show has helped my business tremendously. I mean it’s given me a platform and exposure that I could never have or afford.
"Flipping Out" airs every Tuesday at 9/8c on Bravo.
Watch this preview of Season Five of "Flipping Out":