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Famously (and famous) bad bosses

  • Story Highlights
  • One high-profile film producer has fired hundreds of personal assistants
  • Naomi Campbell's treatment of her employees has landed her in court
  • And would you really want to answer to Simon Cowell or Al Capone?
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By Mary Lorenz
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CareerBuilder

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You may think you have the worst boss in the Western Hemisphere, but if you've never had to dodge a cell phone, been fired over a breakfast pastry or had your work referred to as "a complete and utter mess," you probably have it better than you realize.

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Consider the following celebrities, whose poor underlings withstood verbal and sometimes physical abuse and lived to tell about it:

Scott Rudin

The high-profile film producer, whose film credits include "The Queen," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Firm," is infamous for his hot temper and verbal rants.

The Wall Street Journal once claimed he has fired 250 personal assistants, sometimes for offenses as minor as bringing him the wrong breakfast muffin. (Rudin claimed the actual number is closer to 120; however, he wasn't counting those who didn't survive his grueling two-week trial period.)

Despite Rudin's reputation, however, being his personal assistant remains one of the most coveted jobs among wannabe movie moguls.

Naomi Campbell

Campbell is to her employees what fireworks are to the average person: If not handled carefully, she may cause bodily harm.

In early 2007, the British supermodel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for hitting her housekeeper with a cell phone over a pair of missing jeans. Campbell insisted the incident was an accident, but a history of similar events -- including a 2000 guilty plea for assaulting a personal assistant on a movie set in 1998 -- indicates otherwise.

Simon Cowell

It's no secret that the mastermind behind "American Idol" has notoriously high standards, nor does he apologize for them.

In fact, Cowell, who is known for finding new and creative ways to insult everyone from contestants to "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, seems to relish his reputation as the judge everyone loves to hate.

And why not? After all, it is his famously prickly personality that has helped make him a household name.

Al Capone

Alphonse "Al" Capone's name is synonymous with organized crime. He was as well-known for his involvement in illegal gambling, bootlegging and prostitution as for his brutality. His own men were behind 1929's infamous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre."

In 1931, Capone finally went to prison for income tax evasion and was released -- ironically, for good behavior -- after serving eight years in federal prisons.

Afterward, Capone retired to his estate in Florida, where he died in 1947 of heart failure.

Leona Helmsley

The recently-deceased Manhattan hotelier will go down in history as the "Queen of Mean," a nickname she earned as a result of her erratic behavior and hasty firing of employees.

After serving time for tax evasion in 1989 ("Only the little people pay taxes," was her infamous defense), Helmsley again brushed with the law in 2004 when a court ordered her to pay a former landscaper for breach of contract (Helmsley had abruptly fired the man after finding out he was gay).

Gordon Ramsay

The hot-tempered (pun intended) host of "Hell's Kitchen" could give Simon Cowell a run for his money as the cruelest judge on TV. Neither holds back when it comes to doling out criticism, but Ramsay steps it up a notch with slightly more colorful language.

In fact, his fondness for four-letter words is matched only by Cowell's fondness for tight black T-shirts. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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