I first met Karl Stefanovic three years ago this month. It was a brief yet friendly exchange on the set of the Today show as I took my seat opposite him during a commercial break in preparation to talk live on air about the biggest news stories of the day. Little would either of us have guessed that within a few years, there would be many times when Stefanovic would find himself at the centre of the biggest news story on any given day. But his separation from wife Cassandra Thorburn has made him one of the most talked-about people in the country – not to mention the paparazzi’s favourite target. After months of speculation, rumours and innuendo, Stefanovic sat down with me for today’s cover story to discuss the events of the past year for the first time. It’s a candid and raw conversation that uncovers a self-reflective and thoughtful man determined to learn from mistakes of the past – and reveals a very different side to someone once famed for his larrikin persona.