updated 08/31/2006 AT 4:55 PM ET
•originally published 08/31/2006 AT 1:00 PM ET
Donald Trump has told his Apprentice sidekick Carolyn Kepcher: “You re fired,” a source close to Trump has confirmed to PEOPLE.
Although Kepcher was relieved of her duties as general manager of Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff just this week, a source close to The Donald says he has been unhappy with her for months.
“This has been brewing for over a year,” says the source. “He has tried to get her on the phone, and she was either off giving a speech or was hard to reach.”
Of the firing, which was first reported in the New York Post on Thursday, Trump’s rep, Jim Dowd, would only say, “Mr. Trump wishes her the best.”
Kepcher was also cordial about the split. “After 11 years with the Trump Organization, Donald and I had different visions for my future role in the company,” she said in a statement Thursday. “Donald has been an extraordinary boss and a great mentor over the years, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities and experiences he has provided me.”
But, according to the source, tension had been building because Trump felt Kepcher wasn’t doing her job properly, and was instead more focused on building her own brand.
“She was supposed to be managing the golf course. She was supposed to be selling memberships. That’s her job to sell memberships, and she just wasn’t doing it,” says the source. “With the book, the speaking engagements and these endorsement deals, he’s looking at that and thinking, ‘She is supposed to be working for me. Yet, she is off creating her own empire.’ ”
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who has appeared on the show before, will continue to be on The Apprentice – but the source says Kepcher’s ouster has nothing to do with the younger Trump.
“Ivanka will definitely be back in an advisory role on The Apprentice in season six for several episodes, but to say that she has replaced Carolyn isn’t really accurate. You won’t see the same people (each week) sitting next to Donald. Donald Jr. will be seen in at least one episode and Ivanka will be in several.”