When Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a star villain on Donald Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice, worked in the Trump administration last year, other senior staffers—even some more senior than she was—feared her.
And when she was ousted from the administration—in what White House officials described at the time as a “ruckus”—there was widespread relief that one of Trumpworld’s most vengeful figures was no longer around.
But Omarosa is, if nothing else, known for second acts. And, once more, she’s sparking headaches inside the administration. Her new book UNHINGED: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, is being viewed as an act of petty revenge and yet another effort to profit off the Trump era by dishing damaging internal dirt, whether accurate or concocted.
In the first excerpt, published by the Daily Mail last week, Omarosa wrote that while watching Trump’s interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt in May 2017, she “realized that something real and serious was going on in Donald's brain,” adding that “his mental decline could not be denied.”
Trump hasn’t publicly commented on her supposedly “tell-all” book yet, but according to those who spoke to the president early this year about his one-time reality-TV co-star, it wouldn’t be the first time he found himself angered or disappointed by Omarosa’s post-Trump path.
Shortly following her ouster from the administration late last year, Omarosa gave a string of media interviews that conveyed dismay and even tear-stained panic over the Trump presidency.
“No, it’s not going to be okay, it’s not… It’s so bad,” she said of the Trump presidency to housemate Ross Mathews on camera, during an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, earlier this year. Omarosa also said on the show that she wouldn't vote for Trump again “in a million years, never.”
Trump, a voracious consumer of media and TV, quickly caught wind of Omarosa’s comments, and, according to two sources close to him, privately expressed sharp annoyance at what his supposed friend was doing. He added that Omarosa was “nothing” without him and making a fool of herself, according to one of these sources.
However, those close to Trump say his irritation at Omarosa soon became more or less an afterthought, given his long list of public enemies. Her initial betrayal was not even worth a single rage-tweet from the president.
These are tense times in the Trump-Omarosa relationship. She was the proud bete noire of his reality TV empire and one of his most outspoken boosters as he entered presidential politics. When he went to Washington, D.C., she was right by his side, part of a cadre of loyalists who landed in the new administration.
Despite her current confessional state, there was scant evidence to show that Omarosa had any problem with Trump or his presidency while actually there. As the communications director for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, she would frequently refer to the president as her “good friend,” and would brag to friends and colleagues about how much Trump loved her, according to numerous former and current Trump administration officials. Omarosa would also routinely claim that she was one of the very few advisers the president could count on to remain loyal to him, and that he was surrounded by backstabbers and opportunists who merely wanted to profit off of their proximity to him.
But she was also known as a grudge-holding figure in Trumpworld. And according to three sources with direct knowledge of her conduct and reputation in the Trump White House, she also enjoyed the protections that came with a personal, years-long friendship with the president.
It was often unclear to her fellow senior officials what, if any, substantive work she managed to accomplish. But in large part due to her reputation for retaliation, she was typically handled with kid gloves by her superiors. This included, according to these sources, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who feared her wrath enough such that he avoided directly confronting her as often as possible.
Those fears weren’t entirely unfounded. During the brief but tumultuous tenure of White House comms czar Anthony Scaramucci, Omarosa sent him a list of officials she wanted Trump to fire. Her list prominently featured Priebus, as The Daily Beast previously reported.
Ultimately, Omarosa appeared to have overestimated how invaluable she was to the president. When Priebus’ successor, John Kelly, an Omarosa antagonist, took over as chief of staff, he pushed her out. But not before another bit of reality TV-style drama ensued. Omarosa tried to “storm the residence” to plead her case to Trump, sources familiar with the incident said at the time.
Omarosa did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story. The White House press shop didn’t comment, either. But some of her ex-colleagues say they find Omarosa’s latest turn more than a touch ironic.
“It’s unfortunate, considering Omarosa would be completely unknown to the world if it weren’t for Donald Trump, that she’s suddenly pretending she believes he’s this awful human being,” a former White House colleague of hers told The Daily Beast. “Didn’t she have a decade to assess that and do something about it if it’s what she really believed?… Either she always thought he was a terrible person but was a willing participant because it benefited her financially, or she never had a problem with him but will now pretend like she did because it benefits her financially. I could see either being true.”
As she embarks on selling her “insider’s account,” virtually all of Trumpworld has grown tired of her, if they hadn’t done so long before. This follows a pattern in her life in the public eye that feels all too familiar for Omarosa, who never seemed to mind making an armada of personal enemies, whether in the realm of reality television or executive power.
In her past life as a reality TV super-star, some of her former Apprentice cast members had nicknamed her “Enough-arosa” by the end of the first season.