What really happened between Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic? Inside their on-screen friendship, pay dispute and her shock exit

How it all went down.
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There has been plenty of talk about the ongoing feud between Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic ahead of the release of her tell-all memoir.

Excerpts published from the 61-year-old’s autobiography, It Wasn’t Meant to Be Like This, have certainly lived up to her promise to leave “no stone unturned”.

Especially when it comes to her explosive relationship with former colleague Karl.

According to Booktopia, the book documents her decade co-hosting Nine’s Today Show with him, as well as her shocking exit and some of her interactions with Karl in the years since.

But before you crack open Lisa’s book, you’ll need to get up to speed on what actually went down between her and Karl on and off the air.

Keep reading for a full deep dive into how Lisa Wilkinson’s working relationship with Karl Stefanovic began, and how it all went sour.

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Co-hosting the Today Show

Lisa and Karl’s relationship started out quite well when she joined the Today show in 2007.

Journalist Peter Ford claimed that it was Karl who helped her get the job in the first place, after they met through TV icon Larry Emdur.

“Karl went and lobbied for her to get it [the job], knowing full well that she’d be sitting alongside him and she’d be earning more money than him,” he said.

Lisa was still fairly new to the world of TV reporting when she signed onto the Nine show and has said that Karl helped her acclimatise.

He even supported her when she received her first troll email after joining the program, she told comedian Anh Do during a 2020 appearance on his show Anh’s Brush with Fame.

Karl helped Lisa adapt to live as a TV reporter after years in print.


“I can honestly say right up until our very last show together, we could still make each other laugh, we could still challenge each other, we could still disagree,” Lisa added.

“We could still annoy the living daylights out of each other, but we still cared about each other.”

On-screen, the duo were TV’s golden couple and they quickly overtook Sunrise in the ratings, which was a huge win for Nine.

But the 61-year-old has said that their on-screen friendship wasn’t an entirely accurate representation of their real-life relationship.

“It was an on-air relationship that was so good we never talked about it,” she recently told Mammamia.

Karl and Lisa pose for a photo in 2017, just months before her shock exit.


“We almost never saw each other off-air. And there were times when I wondered why that was, because I did tend to reach out a lot more than Karl ever reached out.”

They would go on to co-host the Today show for several years before Lisa’s bombshell exit in 2017, following a pay dispute.

The infamous pay gap

Lisa has claimed in her memoir that the pay issue began in 2015, when she and Karl decided to negotiate their pay together, something he actually suggested.

“He wanted us to present to Nine as one entity, an unbreakable duo, with a dual contract on equal pay,” reads an excerpt from her memoir.

However, she says Karl received a massive pay bump at the end of that year while she did not.

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She says she learned that Karl had allegedly signed a huge $2 million deal to continue hosting the Nine show, while she was reportedly taking home $1.1 million at the time.

It should be noted that have reported that this pay disparity only emerged at the end of their partnership on the show.

The outlet claims that Lisa was actually paid more – almost double – than Karl at the start of her time on the Today show, before their roles flipped and he began out-earning her.

Being a huge supporter of equal pay, Lisa continued to work to renegotiate her pay to be more in line with what Karl was getting.

“The truth was, the gender pay gap between Karl and me was so off the charts that no-one would have believed it – and much bigger than that figure that had been conveniently leaked,” she wrote.

Lisa has claimed Karl was taking home hundreds of thousands of dollars more than her while co-hosting the Today show.


Though Lisa reportedly wasn’t asking for the same pay as Karl, she was asking for a major raise and it’s understood that Nine wasn’t on board with the bump.

It was reported at the time that she decided to leave the show on 16 October, 2017, after Nine refused to pay her the same – or, according to some outlets – more than Karl.

However, Lisa has claimed in her memoir that she was actually sacked after trying and failing to renegotiate her pay to be more in line with Karl’s.

Lisa’s shock departure

In her memoir, Lisa claims that she realised her friendship with Karl was just “for the cameras” on the day she left the Today show.

She had just recently renewed her vows with husband Peter FitzSimons in a surprise ceremony and claims Karl was a no-show on the day, after texting Peter to say he wasn’t coming.

Lisa renewed her vows with husband Peter FitzSimons in 2017.


Guests have since told The Australian that no one knew it was a vow renewal until they arrived for the event, suggesting that Karl may not have been aware of the importance of the occasion.

When Lisa returned to work after the renewal, she says Karl only apologised for not being there after the cameras started rolling.

“And I had a moment of thinking, ‘right, so this is actually just a relationship for the cameras’,” she writes.

At the same time, the 61-year-old says that she noticed something “weird” was happening on the set of the Today show, as Karl seemed to be hosting all the interviews solo.

The Australian disputed her claim, citing internal documents that showed “an almost equal split” between her and Karl’s duties that morning.

Karl and Lisa at an event before her exit.


Confused by the supposed shift, Lisa emailed her manager to ask what was going on and was shocked when her manager called and said she was “off the show”.

In her autobiography, Lisa says she suddenly wondered if this was why Karl hadn’t attended her vow renewal and hadn’t commented on the changes to the show’s format that morning.

“It was just the Karl show that morning. Why didn’t he stand up and say something?”

Though the pair met for lunch two weeks after her shock exit, Lisa says she and Karl never “had it out” over the pay gap and her alleged sacking.

Is there an ongoing “feud”?

While many outlets have reported on the supposed “feud” between Karl and Lisa, the former TV duo don’t seem to view their relationship that way.

Though they’ve definitely gone their separate ways, Karl has chosen not to speak out against Lisa publicly in the years since her exit from Nine.

When asked about her new memoir, Karl told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Brother, I’ve got too many positive and wonderful things going on in my life to talk about that stuff.

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“I’m very happy. In work and life.”

And while Lisa’s new book has exposed many of her grievances with her former co-star, the 61-year-old can still look back on plenty of good times from her Today show role.

“There’s so much of my time at Nine that I treasure as an incredibly precious time in my life,” she told Mammamia.

She also said she has found “enormous joy” in her job at The Project on Channel 10, where she has been able to explore a range of stories that wouldn’t have worked for breakfast TV.

As for her relationship with Karl, it looks like their personal and professional friendship ended back in 2017 when she left the Today show.

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