At least, that's what his most recent celebrity partner Kaitlyn Bristowe—and his fiancé Nikki Bella—had to say on the Tuesday, Jan. 26 episode of the Off The Vine podcast, where they hilariously bonded over clashing with the professional dancer during their time on the ABC reality show.
Kaitlyn broached the subject, asking the Total Bellas star: "Tell me, was Artem...Did you feel like he hated your guts during the season, or did you guys have, like, a flirty thing?"
As DWTS fans may recall, Kaitlyn and Artem won the Mirrorball Trophy on season 29, approximately three years after he was partnered with Nikki and they took seventh place. The pair has since gotten engaged and welcomed their first child together, but at the time, she was dating John Cena, and when it came to Artem, the duo didn't exactly see eye to eye.
Nikki even recalled one particular instance in which Artem got "super strict" with her in front of the other dancers.
"He kind of made a comment about my jive and got really mad at me," Nikki told Kaitlyn. "And I was like 'You know what, dude? J.Lo and Beyoncé don't jive. I don't have time for this.' And I walked out and I got in my car. I remember at the time calling John going like, 'I am quitting. Like, I am not going to stand for this. He is a dick!'"
Now that they've been together for a couple of years, Nikki said she understands "when he gets really stressed, he doesn't realize his tone."
"We're actually in therapy for this," she revealed. "I remember, like, even during dress rehearsals sometimes, I'd be like, 'Is he mad at me?' It'd make me feel really off. And it'd just be his tone."
Kaitlyn was certainly relieved to hear this. "I'm glad because I was like, maybe he just didn't like me at all as a person," she said. "Because I've heard all the dancers are like that—very strict, that's kind of how they grew up in their world of dancing, that's how they were taught—and Artem even said to me, 'I don't want to use Russia as an excuse, but I'm Russian.'"
However, once the pair was in the ballroom, Artem's no-nonsense approach paid off and they even had great chemistry on the dance floor.
Their time on DWTS is currently playing out on season six of Total Bellas, and all the drama is culminating in a must-see finale this Thursday. Don't miss it!
Listen to the complete episode of Off The Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe here.