But after years of ups and downs on the Discovery show, which followed them as they ran the family business building chopper-style bikes, the pair got into a “final brawl” in 2008, and Paul Jr. was fired from the company by his father.
“There was a lawsuit and it was ugly,” Jr. tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. As a result, he signed a one year non-compete before starting his own company, Paul Jr. Designs. (Paul Sr. runs Orange County Choppers.) While the two later reunited for the spinoff Sr. vs. Jr., the relationship was beyond repair.
“I don’t think people realize this, but my father and I didn’t speak for 10 years,” Jr. says. “It was a tough situation for both of us, we were really at odds.”
For more on American Chopper, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
It wasn’t until 2018 that the network approached them about a possible reboot. Hesitant, “We tiptoed into it and the more we got around each other, the more we started to build trust,” Jr. says.
While father and son now keep their businesses separate, they film joint projects for fun. “Working together was the downfall of our relationship, and I’m not willing to give that up again,” says Paul Sr.