Omarosa talks ‘Apprentice': ‘I am not trying to play the sympathy card’

Claudia Jordan and Omarosa Manigault on 'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.' (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC Universal)

Claudia Jordan and Omarosa Manigault on 'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.' (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC Universal)

Nearly ten years ago Omarosa Manigault shot to fame as a winner of the first ever season of The Apprentice on NBC. With her controversial behavior, Omarosa quickly became a reality TV villain, or according to some, the “woman American loved to hate.”

Since 2004, Omarosa has appeared in more than 20 reality shows including The Surreal Life, Fear Factor, The Ultimate Merger, and Girls Behaving Badly.

In July, 2012 Omarosa’s fiance, Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan unexpectedly died after suffering a heart attack, leaving her behind to carry out his legacy.

This year, Omarosa has returned to her reality TV roots appearing alongside Dennis Rodman, LaToya Jackson, Stephen Baldwin, Bret Michaels, and other Hollywood heavyweights on the All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.

Omarosa is competing to win money for her late fiance’s favorite charity, The Sue Duncan Children’s Center.

During Sunday night’s episode, Trump pointed out that Omarosa’s new TV persona is a bit softer, and more vulnerable. After winning $40,000 dollars for The Sue Duncan Children’s Center, Omarosa was moved to tears.

“Look at my Omarosa,” Donald Trump said after seeing her cry. “Omarosa, you’re gonna ruin your image.”

During an interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, Omarosa opened up about her new TV image and said that she is still competitive, and still wants to win, but not at all costs.

“What’s interesting is I pulled back, but my contestants are still competing against the Omarosa from season 1 of The Apprentice. This season people are so afraid and intimidated by the persona that was Omarosa that they don’t even know how to deal with the new me.”

Several of the contestants from All-Star Celebrity Apprentice said that they think Omarosa is using the death of her late fiance to gain sympathy and soar to the top and win.

“What shocks me the most are my contestants who criticized and ridiculed me for coming back,” Omarosa confessed. “They said, ‘you shouldn’t be back, you shouldn’t be competing, you should be home grieving; Your just here to exploit the charity,’ or ‘your going to win because people feel sorry for you.’”

On the most recent episode of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, LaToya Jackson said that Omarosa was trying to play the sympathy card. “Those crocodile tears aren’t fooling no one, honey,” Jackson exclaimed.

“LaToya continues that narrative throughout the season,” Omarosa said. “When I get emotional or my voice cracks she goes, ‘look, she said something, she got emotional and there’s no tears,’ or ‘look, her tears aren’t real,’ or ‘she isn’t crying long enough.’ It’s just very shameful that people try to trivialize Michael’s death and my grieving, and my motive for trying to raise money for these amazing kids on the South Side of Chicago.”

Omarosa continues, “I also recognize that someone like a LaToya Jackson would be very envious of the amazing love story that I had with Michael. It really was a fairy tale. I think every girl grows up and dreams of meeting a very tall, dark and handsome, talented movie star or rock star; and that happened to me. Michael professed his love for me every day, in every interview, and every opportunity that he had. He chose me and I chose him. And I can see how someone like LaToya Jackson would be very envious of this love story; of this love affair that I had with this amazing human being.”

In addition to All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, Omarosa is set to appear on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, where she opens up about how her life changed when she became a minister, and about her three year romance with Duncan.  The new season of Oprah: Where Are They Now? premieres Tuesday, March 19 at 10/9c on OWN and Omarosa’s episode premieres April 2.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC