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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

April 10th, 2013
10:11 AM ET

What does JC Penney need?

Freshly ousted JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson has learned the hard way, you just can't take away people's coupons. It's been a rough year for the company, with shares dropping more than 50% and sales down nearly 30%. You can't say Johnson failed because he refused to try something different. He offered free haircuts for kids, for example. More controversially, he got rid of sales - saying JC Penney would always offer a fair price. That did not work. People like sales. He brought them back.

"JC Penney was in need, and still is in need, of a visionary, somebody who can come in and completely change retail, make the department store utterly unrecognizable to itself," said Rocco Pendola, columnist with TheStreet.com. "Johnson isn't that guy."

Johnson had a good reputation at Apple, a company that has a legendary retail operation.

"Steve Jobs very clearly had a vision for retail, he knew what he wanted Apple stores to look like, from everything from design, to product placement, to how they were going to market them," said Pendola.

For years Jobs worked closely with Mickey Drexler, chairman and CEO of J.Crew; Drexler's input was crucial in envisioning the Apple concept, added Pendola.

"Those guys envisioned it, Johnson, to his credit, implemented it," said Pendola. "They need a visionary at JC Penney, and that is not Ron Johnson."

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