Everybody loves reality TV. We get to see people embarrassed, humiliated, yelled at and generally dissed. We can watch shouting matches and fist fights and tears. From the comfort of our own homes, we can enjoy (and laugh at) people plotting, scheming, and generally being horrible to one another. What’s not to love? And it’s a good deal for TV as well. People go on the shows mostly for their 15 minutes of fame, so reality TV is cheap to produce. Starting in the US, reality television is now big business all over the world. The languages may be different, but the idea is still the same.
The thing is, there are some really nice reality show stars, but they can be a total bore. It’s the nasty ones, the spiteful ones and the mean ones, that everybody loves to hate. They are the ones who pull in big ratings that advertisers love so much. As contestants, it is sometimes said that producers keep them on the show longer than they might deserve simply because they are so mean and nasty and pull in viewers. Here are 12 reality stars everybody loves to hate. They are really nasty, really mean, and totally selfish. In other words, totally watchable.
12. Simon Cowell – X-Factor, America’s Got Talent
The video says it all. The guy is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s a reality television talent judge, in both the US and his native England, and an entrepreneur. He says he is honest. Others, including sometimes his fellow judges, say he is just plain out mean. He told one British contestant, Max Stone, that he looked like he was “half dead” as soon as the poor guy walked out on stage, before he had even opened his mouth. Contestants on America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, together with X-Factor hopefuls on both sides of the Pond, have sometimes been reduced to tears. Some say you can be honest without being mean and insulting. Would somebody please tell Simon Cowell that?
11. Gordon Ramsay – Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares
If we had a nickel for every time Ramsay shouted the “F” word, we’d be rich, rich, rich. Another Brit, Ramsay is a celebrity chef whose culinary efforts are applauded. His restaurants have more than 15 Michelin Stars. Pity about the personality. He’s all over the television, on both sides of the Atlantic. On TV shows Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, cooks have been shouted at and told really nasty things. He held slices of bread up to a terrified girl’s ears and reduced her to tears by telling her she was an “idiot sandwich”. He’s powerful, and he’s mean.
10. Jeffrey Sebelia
This guy won season 3 of Project Runway. He was the villain of that year’s show. He insulted other contestants and made a women he was assigned to make clothes for cry. His chip on the shoulder upset other contestants. ABC News reported that Jeffrey said it was all on purpose: “It was sort of a good strategic ploy because everyone got pissed off and unnerved and hated me when I walked into the room.” So, was the guy really mean? Yes, probably from birth. Was he selfish? Ditto. During the final week, another contestant (a very pregnant Laura) accused Jeffrey of cheating. He denied it, but the rumor persists. Perhaps there is justice. Reports suggest his fashion empire has been less than successful. At one point, he was making costumes for movies.
9. Donald Trump – The Apprentice
Okay, we know what the guy is up to now. Who could miss it? For years, he’s struck fear into the hearts of contestants on The Apprentice. It’s interesting that some of the former contestants have called him no more than a “schoolyard bully”. He shouted at them, insulted them (stupid being a favorite word), and curtly dismissed them. He told contestant Sam Solovey, that everyone hated him and later cut him down by telling him he was short. Later, he fired him. The look Sam gave him was toxic. Trump has also said that anyone without an ego is a loser. By his own estimation, he must be one of the biggest winners around. His kind of mean is arrogant and dismissive. Like Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey, he literally makes contestants cry.
8. Omarosa Manigault – The Apprentice, Celebrity Apprentice
This girl is a classic reality show villain. When she appeared on the first season of Trump’s The Apprentice, she was labeled ‘the villain America loved to hate’. E! called her TV’s number 1 ‘Bad Girl’ and she (together with Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey) made the list of TV Guide’s 60 Nastiest Villains Of All Time. Why? Well, she blindsided other contestants and argued. Her best quote? “I am going to crush my competition and enjoy doing it.” Winning is not enough; she had to crush them. And when she got onto Celebrity Apprentice, her confrontations with Brit presenter Piers Morgan, were something to watch. Lots of throwing of things and bleeps. Morgan said throwing tantrums was what she did best. And this woman is now teaching business?
7. Tamra Barney (Judge) – Real Housewives of Orange County
Now, once you enter the Real Housewives universe, “witches” are thick on the ground. This is one show where it’s really hard to find a nice person. But, Tamra is in a league of her own. She has annoyed other “housewives” by saying that without her, the show would be a flop. Some reports say that the RHOC production staff are fed up with her diva behavior and that some of the other housewives resent her nastiness and catty arguments. And her language? Bleep, bleep, bleep. Plus, she seems to shout a lot. And then there are the rows with her ex, who accuses her of neglecting their kids. Rumor has it that Bravo may fire her. But she is probably just too nasty to lose. Michael Buckley told Andy Cohen, the long suffering referee of the Housewives reunions, that Tamra and Vicki Gunvalson (also on RHOC) were the meanest and most two-faced of the housewives. Some honor, we say.
6. Craig Revel Horwood – Strictly Come Dancing (England)
What is it with the Brits? Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey, move over and make room for the mean and nasty Strictly Come Dancing judge, Craig Revel Horwood. The show is the British version of Dancing with the Stars, and Horwood’s nastiness is legendary. He told one celebrity that the only good thing about her dance was it ended and another that she danced like “a giraffe”. A popular presenter on daytime TV was told by Horwood that her dancing looked like a “slug wriggling around in salt”. Another was compared to a “drunken kangaroo”. And he told Judy Murray, the mother of British tennis star Andy Murray, that the “vacant look on her face made her look as if she had been lobotomized”. He is frequently booed by the audience, and some of the pro dancers have been known to argue with his nasty put-downs of their celebrities.
5. Stephen Asprinio – Top Chef, Top Chef: All Stars
The picture says it all: the guy looks like somebody you wouldn’t like. Asprinio was on Bravo’s Top Chef during its first season and on All Stars in 2010. And he was well and truly the villain of the piece both times. ABC has put him on its list of “Reality TV’s Top 15 Villains”. Why? Well, to begin with he engaged in ongoing verbal abuse of another contestant, Candice Kumai, calling her “trash”. He told another contestant that her dish was worthy of “cooking school 101”, and he seemed to enjoy ridiculing the other contestants. At the end of the day, though, all his nastiness and arrogance meant little, as he failed to win either times he appeared on the show.
4. Evel Dick Donato – Big Brother
The mean reality TV contestants don’t win shows. Or do they? Evel Dick Donato is in a class of his own. The Los Angeles bar owner chained smoked and foul mouthed his way through Big Brother 8. It is no exaggeration to say he was despised by the other contestants because of his dirty dealings and backstabbing. He not only managed to win, but he paved the way for his daughter to come in as runner up. They both walked away with checks. Alongside Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell, he made the TV Guide list of the “Most Evil Reality TV Villains”. He was just in your face nasty and mean. Hey, his language was so bad we can’t even quote him.
3. David “Puck” Rainey – The Real World: San Francisco
The guy was late for the first day of the show because of a run-in with the police. That will tell you everything you need to know about him. His roommates soon learned that he was bad news. He fought with everybody and was eventually evicted from the house. One of his fights with an HIV-positive roommate was so explosive that it made Time’s list of the most epic moments in reality TV. He wore a t-shirt with guns arranged to look like a swastika that he refused to take off, monopolized the conversation, and picked fights with his roommates. In 2012, he went to a different kind of house, the Big House, when he was sentenced to two years for stalking a woman.
1. Jade Cole – America’s Next Top Model
Another example of most evil/most hated reality TV contestant, Jade was on cycle 6 of ANTM. Her speech to the judges about how cool and wonderful she was and what a great body she had on the first day had them snickering and rolling their eyes. An MSN piece called her obnoxious, self-absorbed and arrogant. Others have called her the show’s greatest villain, as she was ruthless and scheming. E! News was a little less restrained when they called her one of the “two biggest *itches in the history of the show” (the other was Melrose Bickerstaff). It paid off. She ended up placing third and has gone on to have a pretty successful modeling career.