The reason it is difficult to get paint primer to stick to imitation wood paneling is because the surface of the paneling is so smooth. It is essential that you rough up the paneling to give the primer something to stick to. Yet you'll want to do this without making the paneling surface so rough that the primer does not dry to a smooth finish. There are a few ways you can accomplish this.
Remove all of the furniture from the room. Roll out painter's plastic to protect the floor.
Wash the paneling with a solution of 1 ounce of degreasing dish soap to 1 gallon of hot water using a clean cloth. Rinse the paneling with clean, clear water.
Repair any holes or cracks with spackling compound and a putty knife. Fill in the grooves between the planks of the paneling, if desired. Allow the spackle to dry.
Take the gloss off the surface using a palm sander and fine-grit sandpaper. Use a wood block covered with sandpaper to get into the corners.
Use a prepaint deglosser instead of sanding if you wish. Wear rubber gloves and have good ventilation. Apply the deglosser with a clean cotton cloth after you have cleaned and repaired the paneling. Depending upon how hard the surface of your paneling is, you may have to scrub it in a bit. There is no need to rinse off a deglosser, but check the product label.
Tape off any areas you do not wish to prime, such as window or door trim or the ceiling, with painter's tape.
Open the bonding primer can with a paint can opener and stir the primer with a stir stick. Pour the bonding primer into a paint tray. Dip a paint roller into the well of the paint tray and remove any excess paint from the roller by rolling the paint roller up and down the slope of the paint tray. Apply the bonding primer to the wall with the paint roller.
Apply the primer to corners and hard-to-reach places with a paintbrush. Dip the paintbrush into the primer and wipe off the paint from one side of the brush by scraping it along the inside rim of the can. This will help you to drip and spill less primer. Use a disposable foam paintbrush so you do not need to be bothered with cleaning. Allow the primer to dry. If the paneling is a dark color, you may need to apply a second coat of primer, especially if you will be painting with a lighter color paint. Allow the second coat of primer to dry and remove the painter's tape.