Whatever you think of Dov Charney — and people have a lot of opinions — the man is a master strategist. Now, he’s managed to work his way back into the American Apparel fold, with a new job title as, appropriately, “strategic consultant.” How did we get here? Well, it sounds like Charney basically forced his former employer’s hand by buying up nearly half of the company, with some help from Standard General. Now Charney, AA, and Standard General have come to an agreement wherein Standard General is injecting up to $25 million into the company and getting its own seat on the board. Bloomberg Businesweek’s current cover story dives into the situation in depth, beginning with Charney’s firing. The portrait describes Charney living inside one of the company’s distribution centers for a time, sleeping with a walkie-talkie on his chest; at another point, he got so into the store’s lighting that he began studying the kelvin scale. Basically, he seems like the type of guy who would be super into Sun Tzu. (Fun fact: Charney actually hired the author of The 48 Laws of Power as a personal consultant.)
Charney’s new job title is a little nebulous. He told the magazine, “They control the shares. I’m a bystander. My first issue is to save people’s jobs, put the company into a stable financial situation. And then we’ll evaluate whether or not I’ll be the janitor or the CEO or the consultant. … I believe Standard General will treat me fairly.” (Women’s Wear Daily today quotes the company’s SEC filing, which states that Charney is not allowed to “interfere with or attempt to influence the outcome of the investigation, or access the company’s computer system.” The paper reports that Charney will still receive a base salary, but “will have no supervisory authority over any employee of the company.”) So it’s kind of an in-name-only position. But Charney is not quite out of the woods yet: The company is still investigating his alleged misconduct. Good luck getting to the bottom of that.