Television’s worst show (The Project) has decided to do a bit of reputation rehabilitation for noted wage thief George Calombaris. I wonder if he has a show coming to Ten soon? (He does. This sucks.)

You may know George “it’s just not a good business practice to be paying penalty rates” Calombaris from Aussie television classics such as Masterchef Australia and A Current Affair‘s “George Calombaris wage scandal” segment.

The chef was found to have stolen $7.8 million in wages from his employees and was slapped with a $200,000 fine. He was also ordered to repay the wages to 515 former and current workers. His company then found itself in debt and the aforementioned underpaid employees ended up jobless.

But of course, this whole scandal made Calombaris cry “a lot”. Poor guy. At least he has his employee’s dollars to wipe his eyes with.

Because it clearly had nothing better to do, The Project decided to paint Calombaris in a positive light during a segment that mostly just promoted his big return to television.

During the chat, Calombaris referred to “disastrous headlines” and called his critics people “in the grandstands throwing eggs” at him. Of course, he also referred to himself as someone “in the arena.” There’s something so Greek about imagining yourself as this hypermasculine hero playing to an adoring crowd. Also in handling money very poorly. 

There was also a random clip of him walking into an Indian grocery store and saying “it’s like an assault on the senses. The smell is so foreign to me.” This, alongside another clip of him mispronouncing food and shrugging off corrections, were the only clips from the store included in the puff piece.

I have no idea how any of this was supposed to revive his reputation when it makes him seem even more ignorant.

Unfortunately, accountability, empathy and a heartfelt apology were found on the ingredients list under “missing”.

Hosts of The Project then had a jolly old debate about “cancel culture” and its disastrous effects on men who steal millions of dollars in wages from employees without a second of jail time. Won’t somebody think of the cancelled celebrities?

Michael Hing, the first guest on The Project table to have an opinion that isn’t rotted by brain worms, called out the fact that Calombaris is pretty lucky his only real punishment for underpaying workers was being “cancelled” and a brand new TV show.

“If I took $7 million from a bank, I’d go to prison,” he said.

“But you take it from little people — workers — and suddenly it’s just ‘cancelled’.”

Unfortunately, this criticism of Calombaris was brushed off with an immediate joke and a plug for his new show. We (absolutely do not) love to see it!

Folks immediately saw through The Project‘s attempts at making a wage thief relatable and bombarded the clip with some gorgeously savage comments.

“As someone who is owed money by them and will never see it… this interview infuriates me,” wrote one commenter.

“He didn’t answer ANY of the ‘hard’ questions and pretty much blamed everyone else but not himself.”

“Wow, disastrous headlines, how sad for him, imagine if he wasn’t a wage thief,” wrote another.

“So nearly $8 million in wage theft is what gets you a puff piece with Channel 10, got it. Handy to know,” wrote a third.

George can keep crying all he wants about how his career was ruined, but he did it to himself. He was never the victim of this situation, everyone who worked for him was.