Reality television personality
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, known simply by the moniker "Omarosa," is a woman television viewers love to hate. Launched to stardom as a result of her appearance on the inaugural season of Donald Trump's NBC reality show The Apprentice in 2004 and the follow-up Celebrity Apprentice in 2008, Omarosa became famous for her calculating, outspoken, take-no-prisoners approach to business and for her infamous clashes with fellow participants on the show. As the self-proclaimed "Queen of Reality Television," Omarosa built a career as a professional bad girl, appearing on the talk show circuit and on other reality programs, such as VH1's The Surreal Life.
Omarosa was born Omaroseonee Onee Manigault on February 15, 1974, in Youngstown, Ohio. One of four children, she was raised in the projects of Youngstown by her single mother, Theresa Manigault, after her father's early death. After graduating from Rayen High School in Youngstown, she studied broadcast journalism at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and went on to earn a master's degree in mass communication studies at Howard University in Washington, DC. She paid for her education by competing in beauty pageants; she was crowned Miss Buckeye, Miss Youngstown (the first African-American woman to win the title), Miss Central State University, and Miss District of Columbia.
Though Omarosa billed herself as a "Washington insider" and a former appointee in the Clinton-Gore White House, People magazine revealed in 2004 that her career in the nation's capital was, in fact, marked by failure. According to White House sources, Omarosa was fired from four jobs in just two years because of her abrasive personality and lackluster work ethic. In addition, Omarosa claimed to have handled logistics and event planning during her stint in the White House, but People learned that she was actually a scheduling correspondent, answering invitations for Vice President Al Gore. A former colleague told the magazine that she was asked to leave her last position "as quickly as possible, she was so disruptive."
In 2004 Omarosa was chosen from among hundreds of thousands of applicants to appear in the first season of Donald Trump's NBC reality television show The Apprentice. On the show, sixteen businessmen and -women competed against one another as "project managers" for a $250,000-a-year job as head of one of Trump's companies. Each week, one contestant was eliminated—making popular Trump's catchphrase, "You're fired." The contestants lived and worked communally in a loft in New York City.
From the beginning, Omarosa aroused controversy with her brash and aggressive personality. According to her NBC bio for the show, she said, "I'm going to crush my competition and I'm going to enjoy doing it." Despite her bravado, Omarosa was chosen as project manager only once during the show and failed in that competition. Trump fired her in the ninth episode of the season. Of her experience on the show, Omarosa told Jet magazine, "No man is your friend, no man is your foe. Every man is your teacher. I think there is a lesson in every person you come in contact with, good and bad. There's a lesson in everything."
In the aftermath of her firing, Omarosa accused fellow Apprentice contestant Ereka Vetrini, with whom she had squabbled frequently during the show, of making racial slurs against her. The accusation was later judged to be false when Omarosa refused to take a lie detector test.
During the Apprentice season finale, when fired participants returned to work for one of the two remaining competitors, it was widely speculated that Omarosa sabotaged contestant Kwame Jackson by her inattention to detail, thereby stealing the spotlight at season's end.
Controversy followed the reality television "diva" after the show. When Clairol announced in 2004 that Omarosa would appear in commercials for its Herbal Essence products, consumers threatened to boycott the company, so the campaign was scrapped. After an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, during which Omarosa was allowed to sit on stage while her co-stars were relegated to the audience, viewers flooded Oprah.com with vitriolic comments. In response to the incident, Omarosa said, "I'm a moving target. As soon as they think they've figured Omarosa out, I've already moved on to a whole different industry." Finally, in the summer of 2005, Omarosa was named in a TV Guide poll as the most hated reality show contestant of all time.
Following her departure from The Apprentice, the star trademarked the name "Omarosa," though she legally retained her last name for use in business and political pursuits. She became a popular guest on the talk show circuit, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil Show, Today Show, Larry King Live, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Dateline, and The View. She also made cameo appearances on the NBC soap opera Passions and on the UPN sitcom Girlfriends.
Omarosa appeared on a number of other reality television shows, including a reality star episode of NBC's Fear Factor, Bravo's Battle of the Network Reality Stars, and several episodes in the fifth season of VH1's The Surreal Life. During her time on the Surreal Life, she had numerous confrontations with fellow participant Janice Dickinson.
In 2008 Omarosa returned as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, the seventh installment of the program, reprising her role as board room buster. During the show, sixteen celebrities competed for the title of "Best Business Brain" and the opportunity to donate the winning proceeds to the charity of his or her choice. During the series, Omarosa famously fought with candidates Carol Alt and Piers Morgan. Omarosa was chosen as project manager three times, losing all the competitions. She was eliminated in the tenth episode, making her the only contestant to be fired twice by Donald Trump.
At a Glance …
Born Omaroseonee Onee Manigault on February 15, 1974, in Youngstown, OH; daughter of Theresa Manigault; married Aaron H. Stallworth, May 27, 2000 (divorced 2005). Politics: Democrat. Education: Central State University, BA, broadcast journalism; Howard State University, MA, mass communication studies.
Career: Deputy associate director, White House, 1997-2000; political consultant in Washington, DC, 2000-04; reality television personality, 2004-08; managing partner, Access America Enterprise Corporation, 2008—.
Awards: Miss Buckeye; Miss Youngstown; Miss Central State University; Miss District of Columbia; People magazine's most hated reality television celebrity, 2005.
Addresses: Agent—Forster-Delaney Management, 12533 Woodgreen S., Los Angeles, CA 90066. Web—http://www.myspace.com/omarosadotcom.
Following her appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice, Omarosa became the managing partner of the Access America Enterprise Corporation, a strategic planning, fund-raising, and consulting company, and made public appearances as a speaker. She contributed to community service organizations such as the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, DC; the Positive Vibrations Youth Marketing Program at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum in Compton, California; and the Fred Jordan Missions in California.
The Apprentice, 2004.
The Surreal Life, 2005.
The Celebrity Apprentice, 2008.
Jet, April 12, 2004.
New York Times, July 16, 2004; August 4, 2005.
People, April 8, 2004.
The Celebrity Apprentice,http://www.nbc.com/The_Celebrity_Apprentice/ (accessed June 12, 2008).
Hollihan, Keith, "The Omarosa Experiment," The Morning News,http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/manufacturing_reality/the_omarosa_experiment.php (accessed June 12, 2008).
"Omarosa," TV.com,http://www.tv.com/omarosa/person/253082/biography.html (accessed June 12, 2008).
—Deborah A. Ring