(NEW YORK) — His recent political exploits aside, these days brassy real estate magnate Donald Trump is known best for two words: “You’re fired!” It’s the phrase he declares with gusto to dispense with losing contestants on his NBC reality show, The Apprentice.
But when cameras aren’t rolling, Trump tells ABC’s 20/20 that — brace yourselves, Trump fans – he actually doesn’t enjoy firing employees.
“I do have a heart, and I don’t like firing people,” he said in a recent interview. “I usually like to do it very, very soft, softer than (on the) The Apprentice.”
Trump said that, when it’s come to letting people go, he’s gone as far as taking them out to dinner to break the news — though he concedes that doesn’t necessarily score him any points with fired employees.
“The bottom line is, once you say, essentially, ‘You’re fired,’ no matter how nice it is, nobody really likes you,” he said.
There are exceptions, of course, to Trump’s “soft” firing strategy.
“If somebody does something bad, if there’s theft involved, if there’s good reason, I do it very much like The Apprentice, if not even worse,” he said.
Trump’s not the only mogul with a general distaste for letting go employees. Sports and film tycoon Mark Cuban says that when he has to fire someone, he puts some of the blame on himself.
“I love when you hire somebody, I love helping make people successful,” he told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega. “And if I fired you, I failed as much as you have, probably even more. Because my job is to put you in a position to succeed.”
Cuban, one of the “shark” investors on ABC’s Shark Tank reality show, compared firing someone to ending a romance.
“I’d say, ‘Look, I’m sorry. You know, it’s not working.’ It’s like breaking up with a girlfriend. ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’” he said. “It’s just not comfortable.”
A backdrop of tinsel and mistletoe may make the situation even more uncomfortable for Cuban: When he does have to fire someone, Cuban said, one of the best times to do it is around Christmas.
“Emotionally, it feels bad, but the start of the year is when people are often hiring, and so you want to put somebody in the workforce when they (have the) best opportunity to get hired,” he said. “It sounds bad, it feels bad, but in reality, it’s not so bad.”
Watch more on ABC’s 20/20: Workplace Confidential Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio