Reality TV Stars That Are Nothing Like They Seem

Reality TV stars' outrageous personalities make their genre interesting. It seems that casting directors somehow always strike gold with finding the most argumentative, bold, and competitive people out there. Sure, sometimes producers just get lucky — but many of the most iconic reality TV personalities have been uncovered as disingenuous. Casting director Mike Lush told Page Six that energetic personalities are favored. It's not shocking that this is what it takes to land a reality TV role, because boring people probably don't make for great ratings.

Perhaps the enticement of a faster rise to stardom is what influences cast members to develop on-camera personalities. Maybe pressure from TV producers plays a part, as well. Regardless, there is no doubt that many reality TV stars fake it when the cameras are rolling. These often not-so-convincing personas have created a desire for more authentic reality TV. As a result, shows like Netflix's "Insiders" — where contestants are unaware they're starring on a show — are on the rise, per The Guardian

Still, carefully crafted façades are incredibly entertaining. On that note, these are the reality TV stars who are nothing like they seem.

Courtney Robertson of The Bachelor played up her villainy for TV

ABC's "The Bachelor" brings together an unforgettable group of women each year, though some are more memorable than others. Courtney Robertson was the standout star of Season 16, when hopeful contestants fought to win bachelor Ben Flajnik's heart. Although Robinson was the season's villain, she proved to be just what Flajnik was looking for in a partner, as the two got engaged at the end of the show (via E!). Unfortunately, the couple would later part ways. They have since done interviews that gave viewers an inside look into what really went on while filming "The Bachelor."

Robertson hinted that the contestants were encouraged to say things to spice up the show. In her book "I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends," she touched on the controversial confessionals contestants film opposite "Bachelor" producers. There was likely an added pressure for Robertson because she had developed a friendship with these producers. She told the New York Post, "I was like, 'These are my friends — I want to make their job as easy as possible.' I didn't say 'no' to a lot of the questions." Robertson elaborated in her book (via the Post), "I honestly did not know I was going to be portrayed as the worst villain in 'Bachelor' history ... I genuinely thought I was being funny." Sure, the former reality star may have had her moments, but she's not quite the villain she was portrayed as on camera.

Kim Kardashian is no airhead

Some viewers have characterized Kim Kardashian and her sisters as ditzy reality TV stars, questioning why they were even famous in the first place. Although this skepticism still circulates on social media and beyond, some naysayers have changed their opinions on this billionaire family. Kim Kardashian in particular has proven to be rather business-minded, using her fame to launch such profitable brands as KKW Beauty, KKW Fragrance, and Skims, per Glamour.

Beyond her many business endeavors, Kardashian began studying to become a lawyer in July 2019 (via CNBC). She detailed this journey in an Instagram post in which she revealed she "passed the baby bar" law exam on her fourth attempt. This is an impressive accomplishment considering the Skims founder did not attend law school. She also mentioned how her late father, attorney Robert Kardashian, would have reacted to her success. "I know my dad would be so proud and he would actually be so shocked to know that this is my path now but he would have been my best study partner," reads the Instagram caption. Despite inaccurate assumptions based on her on-screen persona, the "Keeping up with the Kardashians" star's intelligence and determination likely helped her achieve this goal.

Gordon Ramsay has a soft spot

When viewers tuned into "MasterChef Junior" for the first time, they saw a different side of Gordon Ramsay. The chef was far more patient, gentle, and understanding with the show's child contestants than fans were used to. Most noticeably, he had completely rid himself of his signature explicit language use. As it turns out, this softer side may be closer to Ramsay's real-life persona than what we see on TV. His former employees revealed that he has a soft spot.

In an interview with Mashed, Season 10 winner Christina Wilson explained that while Ramsay is not completely different behind the scenes, he typically only gets frustrated during intense scenes on his shows. "I would say that, the only time you ever really see him throwing plates, punching salmon, doing that kind of thing is during dinner service," she explained. "He only does it on 'Hell's Kitchen' and 'Kitchen Nightmares.' Or '24 Hours to Hell and Back,' that kind of thing."

Ramsay's former assistant restaurant manager for Maze, Tash Pericic, had a similar experience while working for the chef. "He'd come in, say hi, come into the kitchen, check that everything's okay," Pericic said in an interview with Insider. "It was fun, and quite entertaining." She once witnessed Ramsay get frustrated on the phone over chairs he didn't like that had been ordered by an assistant for a holiday party. According to Pericic, he still kept his cool with the employees and even offered glasses of champagne. It seems that Ramsay's former co-workers can attest to his calmer side that fans don't often get to see.

Former Bad Girls Club cast member Seven Craft isn't as feisty off camera

Former "Bad Girls Club" cast member Seven Craft made a lasting impression on the drama-filled reality show. The Oxygen hit, known for catfights among co-stars, highlighted Craft's argumentative side. She was often seen brawling with other cast members and stirring the pot in the "Bad Girls Club" mansion. 

After leaving "Bad Girls Club," the Instagram influencer became a mother and mommy vlogger. She frequently posts YouTube videos showcasing her life as a boy-mom to her adorable son, Syx. It also seems that her personality might be different from what fans saw in the show. Looking at her YouTube success, Craft's now calm, cool, and collected persona is just as engaging as the combative side "Bad Girls Club" highlighted.

A fan sent in a Q&A request asking Seven Craft if the series was scripted. She shared on YouTube that it wasn't and added, "This was very real. ... The producers might be messy at times — 'Oh, I think you should do this, or I think you should do that.' Some girls took their advice. Other girls (me) didn't take their advice. Their advice was horrible." The star admitted that "at the end of the day, any decision you made in front of that camera is a decision you made in front of that camera. You can't blame the producers." Even so, "Bad Girls Club" was just one part of the star's life.

Holly Madison's tell-all book exposed The Girls Next Door

Holly Madison is well-known for her time on E!'s "The Girls Next Door." The show highlighted Madison's relationship with late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Since Hefner's passing, many of his former girlfriends have opened up about life in the Playboy mansion and what these age-gap relationships are really like. Madison even released a tell-all book titled "Down the Rabbit Hole" that exposed the persona she faked for "The Girls Next Door."

According to Us Weekly, Madison alleges in this book that ex-boyfriend Hefner enforced a strict set of rules that all of his girlfriends had to abide by. She also wrote about how she didn't truly understand what she was getting herself into. "I thought I was an adult and thought I was making my free choice," she revealed. "And I was. But I wasn't sophisticated or really prepared. ... I could understand how people thought it was strange. But I guess I wasn't comfortable enough to explain why I thought it would be fun or why I thought it would be a good idea."

In 2021, Madison took to the "Call Her Daddy" podcast to detail some of her difficult experiences living in the Playboy mansion. She shared that she felt trapped because of her disconnect from the outside world. "Moving out to me looked very scary," she admitted. Now, the former Playboy Bunny is showing off her authentic self on her YouTube channel. Her transparency gives her fans a look into what she endured during her televised moments.

The Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj feud may have been fake

Season 12 of the singing competition show "American Idol" is remembered for the feud between celebrity judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. One of their most notable moments of tension involved Minaj stating, "I told them I'm not f**kin' putting up with her f**kin' highness over there," in reference to Carey (via TMZ). These stars actually began their relationship as friends when Minaj featured on Carey's "Up Out My Face" in 2010. Minaj was still in the early stages of her career when she joined in on this collaboration.

Unfortunately, their history was not enough to prevent the back-and-forth bickering we saw on "American Idol." Although these spats seemed very real on camera, Carey later shed some light on what really happened, in an interview on "Kyle & Jackie O." She had her complaints about "Idol," when prompted. "It's so boring and so fake. I'm sorry I just think it's — when I say it's fake, I mean ... you have to make up things to say about people." She also said of the fabricated feud: "It should have been about the contestants instead of about some non-existent feud that turned into even more ridiculousness... I would never want to be involved with it again, but everybody else can like it." Fans are left to decide whether the tension between Carey and Minaj was encouraged for the cameras or was something more.

Tyra Banks made some problematic choices

Model Tyra Banks was executive producer on both "The Tyra Banks Show" and "America's Next Top Model." When "America's Next Top Model" initially aired in the early 2000s, it seemed as though the show's supermodel creator was giving young girls the opportunity to break into the modeling industry with her guidance and expertise. Viewers who revisit the show decades later point out just how problematic most episodes were.

According to Vox, cycles 4 and 13 included episodes where models' skin tones were darkened far past their natural complexions. Other problematic moments included instances of body shaming and exploitation. Fans may recall that the series often highlighted unnecessary details of contestants' traumatic pasts, too. 

The show's unfair pay has also been a topic of discussion. Former "America's Next Top Model" contestant Sarah Hartshorne tweeted that she was only paid $40 a day and had to provide her own food. She was responding to another Twitter user, who wrote, "The fact that girls on ANTM were getting paid $40 an episode and Tyra and the judges were making BANK, is kinda sick." 

Banks did eventually speak out amid all of this controversy resurfacing. In 2020, she shared a statement to Twitter that read, in part, "Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you." Tyra Banks' behavior seems to be much more problematic than fans previously gave her credit for.

Joseline Hernandez exposed Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

VH1's 1 "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" follows the lives of up-and-coming rap artists. The show is known for its many drama-filled moments, which can get pretty intense. Conflicts among cast members often occur off-screen as well as on TV. One brawl in particular even resulted in a lawsuit. According to In Touch, "Love & Hip Hop" cast member Althea Eaton sued co-star Joseline Hernandez for an incident that occurred during a reunion episode. She alleged Hernandez was under the influence when the assault occurred. This lawsuit has reportedly since been dismissed, but it did reveal some of the shady things that go on behind the scenes of "Love & Hip Hop."

TMZ reported that Hernandez made claims that much of the show is scripted. She said this in a deposition video in connection with Eaton's lawsuit. "Well, with reality TV, it's mostly — it's called 'reality,' but it's a lot of acting in the reality world," Hernandez said (via Page Six). "The reality TV show showcases a lot of who we are not," she added. "And I say that because you never know what happens in a reality TV show, they'll showcase your music, they'll showcase certain things, but that's not who Joseline Hernandez is." It sounds like the VH1 star fans see on TV may be an inaccurate depiction of Hernandez herself, who now executive produces various iterations of her "Joseline's Cabaret" series.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Snooki of Jersey Shore is no longer a party girl

The "Jersey Shore" cast members were known for their tans, drama, and love for partying. Viewers couldn't get enough of the group's antics. Thus, the show was an MTV hit and resulted in multiple spin-offs, including the modern "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation." Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was arguably the most memorable "Jersey Shore" cast member. The show portrayed the star as a messy party girl, but it seems that portrayal does not represent who she is today.

Since distancing herself from her "Jersey Shore" image, Snooki has become a wife to husband Jionni LaValle and a mother to her three children, Giovanna, Lorenzo, and Angelo (via In Touch). She took to her podcast "It's Happening With Snooki & Joey" to explain why she eventually decided to step away from the reality show: "I just hate being away from the kids. I don't like partying three days in a row. It's just not my life anymore." 

In an interview with Page Six, Snooki showed she has given some thought to how her little ones will react to her "Jersey Shore" persona. "I'm really nervous about Giovanna seeing me do back handsprings in a dress and, like, my whole crotch is out. She'll be like, 'Mom, where's your underwear?' So that terrifies me," she said. In December 2021, a trailer for "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation" Season 5 featured Snooki's return, despite her previous announcement that she was leaving the franchise (per Page Six).

Jon Gosselin's family life is not picture-perfect

Jon Gosselin of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" was America's family man. He appeared to be an amazing husband and loyal father, and it seemed that he and his wife were inseparable. The TLC hit portrayed the couple and their kiddos as the perfect family — but cheating rumors involving Jon Gosselin following his divorce from wife Kate suggested that things were not as perfect as they seemed. Gosselin insisted he was loyal to his wife during an interview with Dr. Oz. "I was home with the nanny and watching the kids and doing all of the kids' stuff," he claimed. Dr. Oz asked the former TLC star if Kate thought he was having an affair, to which he replied, "Not with the nanny at that point. ... She thought I was having an affair after, like during separation in 2009, which I wasn't." 

Gosselin also appeared on "Steve Harvey" and alleged that TLC encouraged the family to stay together for the sake of the show. "We knew we were going to get divorced, and then the network tried to keep us together for the benefit of the show. So, I quit," he revealed. Gosselin said he wasn't interested in his divorce being displayed "for the public's consumption." Jon and Kate Gosselin's public feud and multiple tell-all interviews suggest that the big happy family fans saw on "Jon & Kate Plus 8" was far from ideal when the cameras stopped rolling.

Simon Cowell has a dark side

Record executive and TV producer Simon Cowell is known for the harsh judging he brings to his talent competition shows. His sometimes brutal comments are part of why shows like "American Idol" and "The X Factor" became such hits. Cowell's past controversies suggest there is far more to the TV personality than fans see on-screen.

In 2020, The Mercury News reported that celebrity "America's Got Talent" judge Gabrielle Union filed a complaint against Cowell and the rest of the show's producers. Union told Variety about one problematic incident that was never addressed: a racially insensitive joke made by guest judge Jay Leno. She alleged that he suggested a painting of Cowell's dogs depicted them as something on a Korean restaurant menu. "I gasped. I froze. Other things had already happened, but at this point, it was so wildly racist," Union said in reference to the controversy. She also claimed that Cowell's frequent cigarette smoking caused her to have respiratory issues. NBC eventually reached a settlement with Union regarding her discrimination complaint, per Variety.

This was not the only time Cowell made headlines for the wrong reasons. In 2013, it was alleged that the former "American Idol" judge impregnated long-time friend Andrew Silverman's wife. He even joked about the scandal involving Lauren Silverman during a press conference, according to Variety: When asked about the controversy, he responded "I haven't read the newspapers, did I miss anything?" He was hesitant to give any additional details at that time, but he did open up about fatherhood in an interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show."

Alexis Neiers turned her life around

Former "Bling Ring" member and reality TV star Alexis Neiers (now Alexis Haines) was only one episode into filming "Pretty Wild" when her participation in a ring of robberies came to light. According to Us Weekly, her involvement in these crimes landed her in California's Century Regional Detention Facility for over a month. This life-changing moment is the reason why the version of Haines we saw on TV is so different from her personality today. The former "Pretty Wild" star opened up to the Los Angeles Times' High School Insider about how her stay in that facility impacted her life. "I wouldn't have it any other way because had I not gone to jail, I probably wouldn't be alive today and that's the truth," Haines explained.

Us Weekly noted that Haines had been sober for 8 years as of December 2018. Her sobriety journey led her to seek a position at Alo Recovery Center in Malibu helping those with similar experiences. She also married Evan Haines in 2012 and is now a mother to daughters Harper and Dakota. Who could've guessed that the wild child antics we saw on TV would only be a phase in Haines' life?

Donald Trump's presidency revealed a different side of the Apprentice host

Before Donald Trump became president of the United States, he was most widely known as a businessman and host of "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice." His blunt personality was very apparent (including on the show), but his controversial political opinions only came to light later. His not-so-well-received comments shocked "The Apprentice" fans and the show's network alike. Trump's problematic statements during his candidacy announcement led NBC to cut ties with the then-TV personality.

Per Variety, NBC confirmed the reason for this firing in a statement. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump," the network shared. "At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values." As some may recall, Trump made insensitive remarks against immigrants while announcing he would run for president in 2015. "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," he said in part, per Newsweek.

Given that "The Apprentice" did not give light to political topics, some viewers had no idea just how questionable Trump's viewpoints were. This shocking revelation is a prime example of how little we know about reality stars' true personalities.

Paris Hilton is not a ditz – she's a businesswoman

When Paris Hilton starred in "The Simple Life," she portrayed a ditzy blonde socialite. It turns out that this persona was created by Hilton to hide her real personality from the world. So, who is Paris Hilton? As the heiress puts it herself, "The real me is actually someone who is brilliant. I'm not a dumb blonde, I'm just really good at pretending to be one." She shared this insight during an interview on Australian talk show "Sunrise" in which she also opened up about why she stepped away from this fabricated image in her adult life and is sharing her real personality with the public. "I don't want to be remembered as some airhead," Hilton said. "I want to be respected for the businesswoman I am."

In 2016, the "Confessions of an Heiress" author also revealed that she assigned a fake high-pitched voice to her "reality" TV character (via Newsweek). Her real voice can be heard in the "Sunrise" interview and in her YouTube documentary "This is Paris." This in-depth film explores subjects including Hilton's dark childhood and her passion for her many business ventures. According to Money, this businesswoman has released clothing lines, cosmetics, skincare, and more. As of this writing, she is involved with the non-fungible token (NFT) space. She released her own NFTs priced at about $1.11million in total, per Yahoo. It seems that business mogul Paris Hilton's genius plan paid off. She has successfully built an empire from her "dumb blonde" façade.