Omarosa: I'm Black, Female, and Donald Trump Is My Friend (Guest Column)

Omarosa Manigault - Trump Rally - H - 2016
David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS/newscom

The former 'Apprentice' star shares a personal side of the president-elect "the world has not seen" as she spearheads his directive to "make his administration the most diverse in history."

I am black, female, and Donald Trump is my friend. I've known him since 2003, when we taped the first season of NBC's The Apprentice. I've had four seasons of TV with him: the original show, Celebrity Apprentice, and I'm the only apprentice to have had a spinoff, The Ultimate Merger. I've worked with him for a lot of that time, and I never observed any of the behaviors attributed to him. 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.

We can look at his current company, The Trump Organization: He has more women executives than his competition — and they are also the highest-paid executives in his company. Look at his daughter Ivanka, who is about to take over the company. As early as the '80s, he has had women in roles as construction managers. That was unprecedented. Look to his past to see what he will do for women in this country. I believe he will empower women and have them shatter the glass ceiling.

As far as race, I can only talk of my own experiences as an African-American working with Donald, Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr. and Melania on The Apprentice franchise. I've always felt incredibly appreciated and celebrated by the organization. You have to look at my track record with the Trumps. People show you who they are by what they do, and in my case, he's only invested in and empowered me. He's been very public about how he feels, that I contributed to The Apprentice franchise and how I was his favorite contestant — contrary to what people say and believe about him when it comes to African-American women. Truly, I am living the American dream because of Donald Trump. Look at my career, the wealth and exposure that I've had: It's very difficult to make the argument that Donald Trump doesn't like black people and black women.

One other note that is often lost: He allowed me to take my show, The Ultimate Merger, to a black entrepreneur, Cathy Hughes, on a black network, TV One. It was a dating show — with an African-American cast. That point often is lost when people are trying to paint him with an ugly brush. One of the concepts we came up with was that there had never been a black Bachelorette or Bachelor on that ABC franchise. So we created our own version.

I'm on the presidential transition team in what is called national engagement. He has given me a personal directive that with the 4,000 jobs we need to fill, he wants his administration to be the most diverse in history. And LGBT is absolutely part of diversity. He wants it to look like America. There's only one responsibility: diversity for the transition. It's an extension of the job I had before when I was his campaign's director for African-American outreach. He spoke very openly at the con­vention about his desire that there be equality for LGBT people, for all people. These are things that have come out of his own mouth.

As for our friendship, I can give you an example of the time when my brother was murdered about five years ago. I was destroyed. Donald was very concerned and one of the first people to contact me. Then my fiance, Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile, died of a heart attack. Donald gave me great support at that time. He told me how he knew what a great guy Michael was and how happy I had been with him at that time and how huge a loss it was for me. I can tell you I experienced a kindness and compassion the world has not seen — the world does not know that side of Donald Trump.

This story first appeared in the 2016 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.