Tarek El Moussa Talks About HGTV Success, Divorce, Family, and More
Tarek El Moussa’s book, “Flip Your Life,” was released Tuesday.
The star opened up about his past in the book, speaking about addiction and divorce.
He told Business Insider the low points in his life helped him grow.
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It’s 6:30 a.m., and Tarek El Moussa has been awake for hours.
As an HGTV star, home flipper, real-estate investor, husband, and father of three, El Moussa’s days are packed, to put it mildly. He’s working so much that El Moussa, 42, told Business Insider he doesn’t have time to think about what he wants to accomplish unless he wakes up by 4 a.m.
“My favorite time of the day is between 4 and 6:30 a.m. because that’s when I get to work in peace and quiet with no distractions,” he said. “During that time, I really think, I create, I plan, I come up with ideas.”
But his morning doesn’t stop there. He also finds time to work out, field Slack messages and emails, and spend time with his family before his workday officially starts at 8:30.
“It’s pretty incredible what you can get done when everybody else is sleeping,” El Moussa said.
El Moussa seemingly hasn’t hit pause since he was thrust into the spotlight with “Flip or Flop” in 2013, and on Tuesday, he added yet another project to his résumé: a book titled “Flip Your Life.”
El Moussa reflected on his 20 years in the real-estate industry and his personal life, much of which has played out in the public eye thanks to his HGTV success. From divorce and addiction to a new marriage, El Moussa is finally telling his side of the story.
El Moussa revisits his past
“Flip Your Life” shows readers a very different El Moussa than the confident salesman he often appears to be on his HGTV series, which have included “Flip or Flop,” “The Flipping El Moussas,” and “Flipping 101 With Tarek El Moussa.”
At the top of the book, El Moussa recounts his experience living in a partially bulldozed apartment when he was 20. After he and his roommate refused to vacate their apartment when it changed management, their new landlord tore down most of their unit while they weren’t home, covering their belongings in drywall. Rather than leaving, El Moussa convinced his roommate to stay in the destroyed apartment with him for a month.
It’s a far cry from the multimillion-dollar homes he regularly flips with his wife, Heather Rae El Moussa, these days. The couple also lives in a 3,000-square-foot Newport, California home with their son Tristan, 2, and El Moussa’s children from his first marriage to Christina Hall, Taylor, 13, and Brayden, 8.
But El Moussa’s account of the early years of his career includes none of the glamour that most associate him with today. After being bullied in his childhood and arrested when he was 17, he writes of feeling aimless and ending up in a real-estate licensing class only because it was in front of the ATM where he realized he was down to his last few hundred dollars.
Even as El Moussa found success in real estate and then on TV with “Flip or Flop,” the hits kept coming. He got cancer not once but twice, accidentally became addicted to anabolic steroids after visiting a “bioidentical hormone doctor,” and went through a divorce in the public eye.
But El Moussa said the hardships he faced only made him stronger.
“I’m a guy who’s kind of been through everything,” he told BI. “The good, the bad, and everything in between. So, I feel like I’ve learned a lot of life lessons along the way, and through all the turmoil in my life, I’ve always had the ability to overcome any negative situation.”
‘Flip or Flop’ drama
After “Flip or Flop” premiered in 2013, the show skyrocketed to popularity on HGTV, garnering over 90 million viewers, according to the network. El Moussa and Hall starred in the series together until 2022, when it ended abruptly amid reports filming had become “too intimate” for the exes, who separated in 2016. Their divorce was finalized in 2018, nine years after they tied the knot, with cameras filming the pair as they went from a married couple to coworkers and co-parents.
“It was the most difficult period of my life,” El Moussa told BI of the divorce. Not only because his marriage was ending but because it was playing out in the media.
“I don’t know what it was about me and Christina, but we got so much press for years, and it just wouldn’t slow down,” he said. “It wouldn’t go away.”
A widely speculated-on incident from 2016, where police were called to their home after El Moussa left their house with a gun, also added fuel to the fire.
El Moussa shared his side of the story in “Flip Your Life,” saying that he left the house to hike “after an especially heated confrontation with Christina,” taking a pistol with him in case he encountered wildlife. He added that he received a concealed-carry license for the weapon a few weeks before the incident.
Hall called 911 when she saw El Moussa hop the fence with a gun in tow, which led officials to find him via helicopter and escort him back to his home in handcuffs to follow “protocol,” El Moussa said in his book. He added that the incident was the final straw for his marriage.
“And that was the very last time we were together as a family: with Christina walking down the driveway, crying, and me sitting there in handcuffs, asking myself, ‘What in the world is going on?'”he wrote.
El Moussa said he quit testosterone the day after the incident, and he ended up in a halfway house shortly after with the help of a doctor. After two months, he started living independently again, rebuilding his life.
El Moussa eventually met former “Selling Sunset” star Heather Rae El Moussa (née Young) in 2019, and she brought him “back to life.” By the time they connected, he was past caring about what the media thought — which was lucky, as El Moussa told BI that TMZ “outed” them on their second date.
The couple decided to go full speed ahead with the relationship, telling each other, “Let’s just do this,” according to El Moussa.
“We got together a few days after our first date, moved in together, and never looked back,” he told BI.
Coming back from rock bottom
In 2024, El Moussa’s life is busier and happier than ever.
He and his staff at Tarek Buys Houses are typically flipping 50 to 75 homes at a time, he told BI. El Moussa also invests in commercial real estate through his company, TEM Capital, and he’s fundraising for a condo-hotel combination in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His team is already building a similar complex in LA.
His on-screen presence is more robust than ever, too. A new season of “The Flipping El Moussas” will air this spring, and more episodes of “Flipping 101” will also hit HGTV later this year. The El Moussas also own a production company, Homemade Productions, which will help them produce and create new series.
And though he’s always working, his home life fuels El Moussa to keep creating.
“I’m most excited about my family,” El Moussa said.
“I’m just obsessed with being a dad, and it truly is my favorite part of my life,” he told BI. “I didn’t even realize how obsessed I was with my kids until I hit rock bottom, until I was on my own, until I started rebuilding my life.”
“I wasn’t present. I wasn’t putting in the work,” he said of his parenting before his divorce. “I wasn’t putting in the time that I put into flipping houses. I needed to put that time into being a dad.”
His commitment to putting his kids first is part of what makes El Moussa wake up so early each day.
“From 3:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., I’m running nonstop,” he said.