Having set his sights on replacing Alan Jones on his prime radio slot, insiders say that Ben was simply biding his time until his much-loved co-worker retired.
And with industry insiders having tipped that to happen this month when his contract ended, the popular presenter didn't think he would be waiting for long.
But in a surprising move that shocked the entertainment industry the stalwart journalist went back into negotiations agreeing to stay on for another two years, leaving Ben’s grand plans up in the air.
“Nine bosses couldn’t believe their luck,” says New Idea's source.
“They are ready to do whatever it takes to secure Ben now, because in truth they think he can save the show. He ticks all their boxes and has a squeaky-clean history.”
But with Georgie Gardner - Karl's long term co-host - and Deborah Knight struggling to win back viewers, Ben is having a tough time deciding his next move and is now worried the role is cursed.
“Everyone at Nine just blamed Karl for a long time, but he has been gone for almost six months now and viewers are still turning off,” says the source.
“And Ben did say last year he wouldn’t be returning to the show and was looking forward to spending time with his wife Jodie and their two kids, but of course that’s when he thought he would be replacing Alan Jones.”
When ratings dropped, apparently Channel 9 had turned to Karl Stefanovic earlier this month hoping that, given the time away, the Gold Logie winner could be a hit again.
Having taken heed of warnings given to him by Nine's Director of News Darren Wick and avoiding the spotlight since his lavish Mexican wedding to Jasmine, the former Today host has spent months towing the line and was thrilled it paid off, welcoming their ‘olive branch’ and hoping to start fresh next year.
“Of course he is devastated that he has been side-stepped,” says the source.
Host Karl Stefanovic's former colleague Lisa Wilkinson once famously said working with the Serbian-Australian presenter had been "one of the challenges" of her career.
Once golden boy Karl has been keeping himself busy with his personal life, helping his wife with her shoe designer company, travelling and hitting the gym - but the source reveals that he was done with the time off.
“It seemed like things were finally turning the corner for him, he has done everything they wanted and he was excited to get back to work so he could prove himself again.”
Meanwhile in bittersweet news, Karl’s younger brother Peter Stefanovic, - a fellow current affairs journalist and foreign correspondent - who was also caught up in the Ubergate scandal that saw him booted from the studio, has just landed his dream job on Sky News.
The source says: “It’s a bit of a kick in the guts for Karl because it was Pete that made the call and put him on speaker phone,” says the source.
“And now he has ended up with the breakfast show gig at Sky with a hefty pay rise, while Karl hasn’t been on air since.”
Peter Stefanovic's wife, former host of The Today Show Sylvia Jeffreys, recently opened up about her own shock sacking from Channel Nine which came months after the Stefanovic brothers got the boot from Australia's leading line-up.
"I didn't see change on that scale coming," she told Stellar Magazine.
The blanket firing came as part of what Yahoo called a "complete overhaul of the breakfast programme" which has been plagued by abysmal ratings for more than a year amid a battle for viewers between Sunrise and The Today Show.
In December, the Sydney Morning Herald said The Today Show co-hosts Richard Wilkins, Sylvia and Georgie were all aware of Nine's decision to axe Stefanovic before the press release was sent out.
The news comes as Karl's ex-wife Cassandra Thorburn clarified the meaning of her new car number plates that seem to feature Jasmine Yarbrough's nickname, Fizzy.
Cass, who won the hearts of Australia by appearing on Dancing With the Stars earlier this year, told Kyle and Jackie O she had no idea Jasmine went by the moniker.
"I didn't know that was her nickname - it's not common knowledge, is it?
"The car I purchased from my girlfriend who is moving overseas for a couple of years. She offered me to buy her car from her, which has had the same number plates for four years. She wanted to keep the plates private and she actually still pays [for them]."
Shock jock Kyle Sandilands admitted he thought Cassandra was a "bitter nut case" before he heard her explanation.
Meanwhile Stefanovic has been busy filming his other venture This Time Next Year.
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