AS SHE makes her long-awaited debut on The Project, Lisa Wilkinson has opened up about the surprising events that led her there.
In this weekend's Stellar magazine, the popular TV presenter admitted her high-profile resignation from Nine's Today show last year after a decade in the job wasn't as sudden as it appeared.
"(It was) something I'd been thinking about for a couple of months, and very seriously," Wilkinson, 58, told the publication.
"The timing was just right. Publicly, it may have seemed like it happened very quickly, but it was something I was seriously contemplating. Then everything just fell into place."
It was widely reported at the time that the veteran journalist's unequal pay with co-host Karl Stefanovic was a catalyst for her decision, with the move sparking a national discussion about the gender pay gap.
While Wilkinson refused to delve too deeply into her reasons for leaving, she admitted salary was a factor.
"There were lots of reasons why it was time to make a move, and that [pay gap] was part of it. I was very happy that it reignited the conversation, because the gender pay gap is real."
Shortly after the presenter's split from Nine, the relationship with her former employer quickly turned frosty, with the network's CEO Hugh Marks taking the unprecedented step of outlining publicly why he thought Stefanovic was worth more than Wilkinson - and what she had wanted.
"I went to an incredible amount of trouble to build that [$1.8 million] package for her. She wanted $2.3 million. It wasn't a $200,000 shortfall to [Karl's] $2 million magic number. It was $500,000," he told the Daily Telegraph at the time.
Reflecting on the way things ended, Wilkinson admitted that she felt a little sad about it.
"These things are always a learning curve. That's also really good for you," she told Stellar.
"TV can be shallow, there's no headline news there, but the relationships that really matter to me are intact."
All eyes will be on Wilkinson tonight as she makes her hosting debut on The Project, but the star insisted she's prepared.
"I'm going to approach this job in the way I've approached every other TV job I've had. I may be really good, I may be really bad, and I'm just about to find that out - along with the rest of Australia."
Stellar is available in Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun, on sale now.