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Will Ron Johnson return to Apple?

April 8, 2013: 7:36 PM ET

ron_johnson_jc_penneyCould the second time also be a charm for Apple and Ron Johnson?

FORTUNE -- Ron Johnson is now unemployed, given the boot as CEO of JC Penney (JCP) after just one year of a failed turnaround strategy. Not surprisingly, Twitter quickly filled with speculation that Johnson could return to his former job as head of Apple (AAPL) retail -- a position that just happens to be vacant.

So I rang up our own Adam Lashinsky, who last year wrote a book about Apple's inner workings (and who was in transit when today's news broke). Basically just to get his gut take on Johnson's theoretical return to Infinite Loop:

"I really don't see it happening. It would be highly unusual for Apple to ask the previous guy back, and those motivations work in both directions. Johnson created something entirely new when Steve Jobs asked him to create Apple retail, and it was the prospect of creating something new that also caused Johnson to go to JC Penney -- although in that case it was building something new out of something broken. Apple retail is not broken and it's not new. I don't think he'd be up for the challenge of taking back over something he already built successfully. Been there, done that."

Lashinsky also said that he still could see some other company hiring Johnson as CEO, particularly if it's looking to make a big bet. "It's really hard to emulate Apple, and Ron Johnson has shown that by trying and failing at JC Penney. But that doesn't mean that other people don't want to try, and maybe think they've got a situation where Johnson could be the right leader since he still understands that big bet mentality better than most."

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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