In the first season of Flipping Out, we were introduced to Los Angeles-area house-flipper Jeff Lewis and his staff. We followed them as they worked on multi-million dollar home deals, handled the stress of cat acupuncture and attempted to master the precise mixture of soft drinks needed to keep Jeff properly and happily hydrated.

Tonight, Jeff and his crew are returning for the second season, and Jeff and his assistant Jenni Pulos took part in a conference call this morning to talk about the show and what we can expect from the second season.

Although there was a lot of entertaining footage generated by Jeff’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies, the fact is this is an actual mental health issue that Jeff is dealing with seriously even as the show occasionally makes light of it. He was open on the call that he sees stress as a trigger for the behavior, and is considering medication, although he has some reservations about side effects.

As to how Jenni deals with working with both Jeff’s strong personality and his legitimate issues, her response (and the duo’s interaction throughout the call) made it clear that there is a lot of affection and respect between the two. She said that she believes you “bloom where you’re planted” and that she has learned so much from working for Jeff. She joked that she’s promoted herself to “CEA – Chief Executive Assistant.”

Jeff was extremely complimentary of Jenni as well, saying he most admires her work ethic. She is essentially working two jobs as she is still pursuing a career as an actor, and her exposure on the first season has increased her acting activity “300%.” Jeff notes this might make running his well-oiled machine a little more challenging, but he doesn’t want to hold her back from pursuing her dreams.

It also appears that the experience of watching himself on Flipping Out caused Jeff some regret for some of his actions, and it sounds like he is making a serious effort to be less reactive, and respond more effectively to difficult situations. That said, the challenges of the “adult babysitting” involved in managing the various people involved in the house-flipping enterprise, and his own high set of expectation can still push him far, and this season will result in his using a nanny-cam to determine whether or not someone is working.

Another difficult thing to watch for Jeff? That cat acupuncture with his cat Monkey. He likens it to torture and hates that it became a viral moment, appearing on Talk Soup and in YouTube videos.

Jeff also gave some home-selling advice. While the market is soft, he cautions, you need to make sure your home is the best value for sale on the block, and don’t get too attached to how much it was worth in a stronger market. A coat of paint and new carpet can be a cheap way to increase value, but if you are going to invest in a serious remodel, spread the cash around. A $40,000 kitchen in a house that is otherwise untouched is still a fixer-upper.

The current housing crunch did affect Jeff last year, but he appears to be back on track. He’s spent so much time developing his business in L.A., he says he doesn’t have any plans to add markets in other areas at this point.

He would, however, like to add some romantic interest to his life. He clearly takes his therapy and working on himself very seriously, and hopes the work that he has done will help him clear the way to find the right guy for him (since, he and Jenni joked, he can’t have Jenni). He knows his peripatetic lifestyle might be an impediment to a long-term relationship, so he’s looking to stop the continual two-year moving cycle so that he can truly settle down.

Jeff also made it clear that if he does start dating, we won’t be seeing it on the show until it’s serious. “This isn’t Workout,” he said.

Although Jenni said she didn’t think anyone can ever truly get used to being on a reality show (noting that you’re always miked – even in the bathroom), Jeff said he wants to have boundaries between the show and his life. This season, the show producers have to just follow him around until the end of his workday, they are no longer doing what are called OTF (On The Fly) interviews in the middle of his day.

Despite the healthier tone Jeff is taking, and the limitations he appeared to have put on filming, there’s still plenty of potential for drama. He has to work for an even tougher boss in tonight’s episode – one who makes him look “like a kitten” he said – and so still expect plenty of drama in this new season of Flipping Out.

– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Bravo)