There are reports this week that Ellen DeGeneres is ready to walk away from her own show, after staff members turned on her in dramatic fashion, accusing her of creating a “toxic work environment” rife with harassment and abuse.

This week, a source from production company Telepictures ripped in to the star, telling The Daily Mail that Ellen is a “phony” who “hates coming to work, “struggles to be nice to people and has utter contempt for her audience.”

We have no way of knowing if this is true or just somebody with an axe to grind, but I’m reminded of an incident in 2017, in which Ellen publicly and brutally lit up one of her own fans, live on TV, in a cruel hidden camera prank.

I think about this incident every time someone mentions the show. To set the scene, the host decided to ‘test’ her audience members’ honesty by setting up a table of free merch backstage before a taping, and instructing them to take one item only.

While most people took the appropriate amount, several women took extra, and were caught on camera pilfering the gear. Ellen later called one of them out during the show, confronting her with the footage in a moment so cringe-worthy it defies explanation.

Now, I’m not about to defend this person for breaking the rules – like Monica Geller says, rules help control the fun!

It does seem a little off to me, though, that an individual worth more than $300 million would take such sadistic glee in setting up a situation like this, then tormenting a lowly fan for taking a cheap trinket, and mocking her because she probably shops at Costco.

I haven’t looked at her or the show in the same way since this stunt, and I’ll admit that I cheered when Dakota Johnson uttered those seven savage words “actually no, that’s not the truth, Ellen” during an appearance last year.

Ellen recently apologised to staff in a letter, pledging to “correct the issues” with the show that bears her name. A number of key employees have been or will be let go, so the future of the popular talk show remains to be seen.