Donald Trump has reportedly hired Omarosa Manigault, one of the most volatile reality television stars in history, to fill a public engagement role on his White House staff.
Better known to many by just her first name, Omarosa become a household name in 2004 when she appeared on the first season of Trump’s then-novel The Apprentice and quickly earned a reputation as a villain. Trump eventually “fired” her from the show, but her loss didn’t stop her from returning to the franchise via The Celebrity Apprentice; she was ultimately “fired” two more times, in 2011 and 2013.
And now it seemingly won’t be long before Trump and Omarosa work together once again. The Associated Press reports that “Manigault is expected to join President-elect Donald Trump's White House staff, according to two people familiar with the decision,” and that she “is expected to focus on public engagement.”
Manigault’s exact title hasn’t been specified yet, but it appears to be in a similar vein (or at least in the same office) as the role held by actor Kal Penn in Barack Obama’s administration. Penn worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2009 to 2011; he famously left a regular role on the TV series House to pursue the White House job, where he was involved with outreach to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
During Trump’s presidential campaign, Manigault served as his director of African-American outreach — though whether she was successful in her efforts is up for debate. While Trump ultimately won the election, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had an 80-point advantage among black voters, according to Pew Research. That’s a blistering deficit for Trump, but the gap between Trump and Clinton was smaller than the 87-point edge Obama had over Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race.
Joining Trump’s administration in an official capacity will actually mark a return to the White House for Manigault. She also worked for Vice President Al Gore’s office as a scheduling assistant for a few weeks in 2000.
“She was asked to leave as quickly as possible, she was so disruptive,” Cheryl Shavers, a former undersecretary for technology at the Commerce Department, told People in 2004. “One woman wanted to slug her.”
At times, there’s seemingly no disconnect between the volatile personality Manigault has displayed during her stints on reality television and her actions in real life. Some of the statements she made during the campaign sound as if they were ripped from television.
"Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump,” she said during an interview with Frontline in September. “It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe."
Manigault’s hiring also feels peculiar because Trump, on his reality television show that touts his business acumen, never selected Omarosa as someone he wanted to hire in the three times she competed. Yet somehow she has made the cut in his real-life administration.
And even if her repeated dismissals from the show were orchestrated to create drama for TV, her hiring further adds to the feeling — as many have noted again and again — that Trump is turning the country’s highest office into a reality show.