Omarosa Manigault, one of the most infamous contestants to ever grace Donald Trump's reality series The Apprentice, will join the president's team, most likely in a public engagement role, after also working on his campaign. A senior member of Trump's transition team confirmed the news to CNN on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know about Manigault as she prepares for work in the Trump administration.
1. The Apprentice is her claim to fame.
In 2004, Manigault became a household name (at least among reality TV fans) thanks to her appearance on season one of Donald Trump's NBC series, The Apprentice. She was eliminated in week nine of the season but left a lasting mark on the series. Many considered her the "villain" of the show's first season, thanks to her often ruthless gameplay.
In 2008, Manigault appeared in season one of The Celebrity Apprentice (where she was the only former Apprentice contestant invited to compete). Her appearance was again controversial, thanks to a season-long feud with Piers Morgan (who ultimately won the season), until she was eliminated in episode 10.
Manigault made a third Apprentice appearance in 2013, on the All-Stars season of Celebrity Apprentice, in which she was fired yet again.
2. She's worked in the White House before.
Manigault, who also goes by the singular name Omarosa, worked in the Clinton administration before her Apprentice fame. There, she reportedly had four jobs in two years, including a stint as a scheduling correspondent for Vice President Al Gore. Fellow White House staffers from the time have described Manigault's tenure as less-than-smooth - and she seems to agree.
“At 23, I got appointed to the White House. That was not a place to learn how to be a young professional," she said during a 2004 panel on women's experiences in male-dominated industries. "That’s a very difficult environment, because they don’t believe in training. They just kind of throw you in the fire."
3. She hasn't always been a political supporter of Trump's.
Initially, Manigault supported Hillary Clinton. In 2014, she tweeted that she was "ready for Hillary."
In fact, Manigault has a long history as a Democrat. In October, she spoke to the New York Times about her political leanings. "I've been very vocal about the fact that I had been a Democrat my entire life," she said. "As an African-American, that's what we tend to do."
And in 2012, she Instagrammed herself in Chicago, celebrating Barack Obama's re-election.
4. But she ended up joining Team Trump in the end.
Despite her early support for Hillary Clinton and past support of Democrats, Manigault did come around to Trump's camp. In July 2016, she joined his campaign as the director of African-American outreach for his campaign.
In September, she explained her decision to work with Trump politically. “I believe the first reason that Donald Trump is running for president is because he truly believes that he can help turn the nation around,” Manigault told Frontline. “The second reason I believe is that this is the greatest position in the world, to be at the center of political power, of the universe. But more importantly, every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” That "bow down" comment didn't go over too well.
As director of African-American outreach for the Trump campaign, Manigault coordinated pivotal in-person outreach from Trump to the African-American community, including his first visit to an African-American church, at Great Faith International Ministries in Detroit.
5. She has multiple degrees and even a preacher's license.
Although she's best known for her reality TV appearances (on The Apprentice and its spin-offs and also a series called The Ultimate Merger, a dating show created by Donald Trump), Manigault brings a unique background to her community outreach appointment. Before her first job in the White House, she earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Central State University. She also has a Ph.D. in communications from Howard University and a preacher's license. She was also named one of TV Guide's Most Evil Reality TV Villains in 2008, so there's that.
6. She won't be the first celebrity to join the White House in a community outreach role.
In 2009, actor Kal Penn joined President Obama's administration as the associate director for the Office of Public Engagement. The Harold and Kumar and House star worked to engage young voters and took a hiatus from acting to work full-time in politics during his time with the White House. When Penn stepped down in 2011, he offered some valuable insight about the role, which might help clarify what Manigault would actually do on a day-to-day basis with the Trump administration.
"Our office doesn't handle policy, but we help bridge the gap between policies," he explained to ABC News. "So if there's a group that's particularly concerned with an issue, and they want to bring in 10 or 12 folks, we'll put them in a room with some of our policy team and they'll link up that way."
7. Her personal life has sometimes been controversial.
Manigault is known for causing drama on reality TV, but her personal life has seen its fair share of controversy too. In 2010, she found happiness with Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan, and the two became engaged.
When Duncan passed away following a heart attack in 2012, Manigault was the primary benefactor of his will, but his family later claimed that she had influenced him to change the will when he wasn't of sound mind and then "fixated" on his money while he was hospitalized.
Manigault publicly defended herself, telling TMZ, "I don't control the estate or the finances and Judy [Duncan's sister] knows it. If you saw all of her emails and texts to me you would see that she is just trying to get money from me, and threatened going to press if I did not give it to her and that is a crime!"
She married to Aaron Stallworth in 2000, but they split in 2005.
8. She's defended Trump against accusations of sexism and racism.
In a guest editorial for The Hollywood Reporter last month, Manigault called Trump her friend, recalled some of her personal experiences with the president-elect, and defended him against some of his harshest criticisms.
“I never observed any of the behaviors attributed to him,” she wrote. “In my experiences with him, he has only been professional. I am aware of the perceptions. But he is open-minded: He does not judge people on their gender or race. He judges them on their ability to do the job.”
9. She's been accused of threatening a journalist.
Reporter April Ryan has said that Manigault "physically intimidated" her outside White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s West Wing office, according to theWashington Post.
Ryan also said that Manigault, her former friend, threatened her and suggested that Trump officials had a "dossier" on her, as well as other African American journalists. Ryan told Washington Post reporter Abby Phillip, who was present for the incident but didn't hear the entire conversation, that she thought the altercation was so threatening it could've required law enforcement intervention.
Manigault's only on-the-record response to the accusations was the emailed statement: “My comment: Fake news!”
10. She got married at a Trump property.
On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Omarosa wed Pastor John Allen Newman in a ceremony held today at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
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