AOL chief embraces inner Trump, abruptly fires employee

Monday, 12 Aug 2013 | 8:39 AM ET
Hear AOL's Armstrong fire employee during conference call
Monday, 12 Aug 2013 | 6:30 AM ET
While on a conference call, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired a Patch employee in front of 1,000 co-workers. CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin has the details.

In a tense conference call last week, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong abruptly—and awkwardly—fired his creative director. The incident was captured in an audio clip in which the CEO mimicked Donald Trump's infamous boardroom rejoinder.

A strategy call over the company's embattled Patch network that was meant to rally morale instead turned into an impromptu bloodletting. As Armstrong laid out plans to close a batch of Patch's sites and lay off staff, he swung the ax at Abel Lenz.

Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of AOL Inc.
Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of AOL Inc.

In the audio clip, which is now going viral, Armstrong is heard telling the call's participants to "pick up your stuff and leave Patch today" if they weren't taking the network seriously. He then trained his sights on Lenz, whose job description includes taking pictures of board meetings.

"Abel, put that camera down right now," Armstrong is heard saying. Following up with a dictate that rivaled Trump, Armstrong said: "Abel, you're fired. Out."

Patch has struggled since AOL acquired the news and information platform in 2009 for $7 million.

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