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How getting 'fired' by the Kardashians led Daymond John to 'Shark Tank'

In the end, this “firing” from the Kardashians’ show had a fortuitous ending; John has been on more than 180 episodes of “Shark Tank,” and currently appears on the show’s 11th season.
Daymond John makes a deal on "Shark Tank" on Nov. 10, 2019.Eric McCandless / ABC

While most people today know Daymond John as the creator of the clothing brand FUBU and an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” in the early 2000s, John worked closely with the Kardashian family.

In the first few seasons of E!’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” which premiered in 2007, John was responsible for integrating product placement on the show, he explained in a 2016 interview with 1010Wins that he recently tweeted. That meant finding brands for the Kardashian family to wear or talk about on the show, in order to give the brands exposure.

This was a difficult task at the time, because the Kardashians were just beginning their careers as fashion moguls and entrepreneurs, John explained on “The Wendy Williams Show” in April 2017. “Nobody would do it; they didn’t believe in these girls,” he said. He often paid to have his own brands, such as FUBU or Coogi, featured on the show.

As part of John’s role, he had promised to appear on a few episodes of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Then, “Shark Tank” came along.

John was approached to join ABC’s “Shark Tank” as an investor around 2008, but he initially turned it down “when I found out we were going to spend our own money,” he joked in the 2016 interview. In fact, John thought the show was going to be a failure, he said at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in 2017.

But, amid a recession, John realized it was the right time to diversify his business portfolio.

“I had 10 clothing companies, eight of them weren’t doing well because nobody’s buying clothing; they can’t pay the mortgage,” John said in 2016. “So, I said to myself, ‘I’m only getting pitched clothing companies. I need to get pitched other things.’”

Suddenly, joining “Shark Tank” seemed more appealing, but there was a catch: John couldn’t take the job because he was involved with “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” which appeared on a different network. “ABC said, ‘You can’t do any other show but ours,’” he said in 2016.

When Khloe Kardashian heard about the conflict, “she basically fired me from the show” so he could pursue “Shark Tank,” John said in 2016. “She said she would never get in my way.”

Before officially joining “Shark Tank,” John negotiated on one more term: the opportunity to meet with television producer Mark Burnett. “I said, ‘OK, I will go out there and shoot the show, but I need to be able to pitch Mark Burnett three of my ground-breaking television ideas if I do,’” John said at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit.

In the end, this “firing” from the Kardashians’ show had a fortuitous ending; John has been on more than 180 episodes of “Shark Tank,” and currentlyappears on the show’s 11th season. Affectionately nicknamed “The People’s Shark,” many of the companies he’s invested in have gone on to have great success.

For example, the sock brand Bombas now brings in $100 million a year, as of April 2019. And one of John’s largest “Shark Tank” investments ($300,000 for a 30% share) was the barbecue company Bubba Q’s, which was doing $16 million in sales as of 2017.

And despite going their separate ways, John and the Kardashians remain on good terms.

“You always had the respect from me and you always had the ability to see things others couldn’t!” Khloe Kardashian tweeted in response to John sharing the story of their working relationship. “Now... everyone sees keep on shining only love over here.”

“Say what you want about the Kardashians, but they are a force to be reckoned with and care deeply for the people they love,” John tweeted on Jan. 5.