LOS ANGELES – Tarek El Moussa couldn’t be more excited about where he is in life and certainly has much to be thankful for.
The HGTV star and realtor married his now ex-wife and “Flip or Flop” co-star, Christina Anstead, back in 2009. The pair stayed married until 2018 when they divorced but not before they became parents to two children.
Christina has since remarried and started a family with Motortrend star and master car mechanic Ant Anstead, while El Moussa, 38, has moved on with Heather Rae Young, who is also a Los Angeles-area real estate agent and stars on Netflix’s “Selling Sunset.”
Now, with a new network show bearing his name, the reality star sat down with Fox News to talk about “Flipping 101 w/ Tarek El Moussa,” the series where he’ll coach first-time house flippers through the ins and outs of high-stakes real estate.
For El Moussa, simply getting to this point in his life and career has been a whirlwind of a journey complete with its share of harrowing moments and he opened up about the days of being door-knocked on a daily basis and not being able to leave his home without the bombardment of questions and camera flashes centered on his highly publicized split from Christina, 36.
“You never realize how strong you are until you need to be strong,” he said of the relentless pestering that came when he had been diagnosed with cancer not once, but twice. “And it was just four or five years of absolute hell for me. I had thyroid cancer and a few weeks later, found out I had testicular cancer. Right after that, I had a terrible back injury and then a whole year of misery in that.”
The real estate mogul said he ultimately “hit my rock bottom” in 2016 and found himself “lonely, depressed, sad, almost giving up.”
“Those four or five years really got to me,” he continued. “And I just made a decision to just completely rebuild who I am for my kids and reinvent myself and just come back bigger, better and stronger than I ever was.”
After bouncing back, El Moussa continued to film episodes of “Flip or Flop” with Christina, which he said was paramount in adjusting to his new normal as a co-parent to two young children. Their mantra was simple: do what’s best for the kids. “And we always stuck by that rule,” El Moussa said.
"You never realize how strong you are until you need to be strong."
“I mean, literally early on the divorce, if we were not getting along that day we would still send emails and we always made sure we were cordial about the kids because we understand how important it is for them.”
Additionally, El Moussa’s father issued tough love whenever the HGTV star needed encouragement during his low moments.
“For me, my biggest supporter has always been my dad. And he's the one who gave me that mindset I have. He's the one who taught me what hard work is. And he's gonna really help me get through it,” El Moussa explained. “And he just reminded me on a daily basis. He's like, 'You're just getting started, kid.' He's like, 'This is just the beginning.'
“And no matter how low I felt, I would just think about what he said, that I'm just getting started. I got plenty of time. I can come back. I can be better,” he added. “The cancer is gone. The back is healthy. And I'm just really happy. And of course, I'm in a wonderful relationship today with Heather Rae Young. You know, she's been my girlfriend for about eight months now. And it's just nice to have a family again.”
Unable to contain his excitement while gushing about his newfound love in Young, El Moussa said his relationship with the luxury realtor almost never happened.
“Totally random story – two reality TV people that really randomly got together. So cliché,” he quipped before spilling the beans that it was Young who caught his eye one sunny day.
“So it was the Fourth of July in Newport Beach. I had my boat parked at a bar and she was on the boat right next to my boat, and apparently she had a friend on my boat,” he explained. “She hopped on my boat to say hi. And then I was like, 'Oh, hey, who are you?' Asked her out. She said, 'Uhhh, no.' But she gave me her phone number, and two weeks later went on our first date. And the rest is history.”
El Moussa told us that if he’s learned anything in life about relationships, it’s that shortcomings should be laid out in advance, similar to real estate.
“You know what the good thing is, like going into the relationship? I put it all on the table,” he joked. “It’s like listen, I'm messy. I don't pick up. I don't cook. I don't clean. I'm disorganized. And I don't listen very well. If you can handle all those amazing qualities about me, we should definitely get together.”
“So she signed up for it,” he added. “So there's no complaining. She signed the contract!”
In signing the said proverbial contract, El Moussa maintained he finds it difficult to muster up the words to describe the last few years of his life other than the fact that he personally feels at his best when he has a semblance of family, something Young gave him from the very beginning.
“We're just best friends, man. It's hard to explain yourself over two and half years,” he said. “It's like, I wake up to someone now, someone cooks me breakfast, someone's asking me what I want to eat for dinner. It's like, wait a minute!”
"I was a kid from Buena Park, Calif., with nothing and I've built this amazing career in this so-called empire from real estate."
“So it's nice having someone there again, you know? And then obviously she's in luxury real estate. So we talk about real estate all the time,” he continued. “She loves design. Like right now, we're currently looking for a new place. We're possibly thinking about building a house together. So I think with her real estate knowledge and her style along with mine, I think we're gonna do some really cool stuff. And I think we're planning on doing some really great TV together one day.”
He also admitted that “love will make you do crazy things” when asked if he saw babies in his future with Young.
But until that day comes, El Moussa is hard at work on his multiple properties across Oklahoma, North Carolina, Atlanta, Utah, Ohio and Las Vegas, and “Flipping 101” provides him with the best blueprint to give rookie home flippers the spark they need to forge their own real estate businesses.
“When it comes to success in real estate, when it comes to success in house-flipping, like the most important part of that is the mindset,” he said. “So although it's a TV show, I'm actually there – genuinely there because I really want to help these people because real estate changed my life.”
“I was a kid from Buena Park, Calif., with nothing and I've built this amazing career in this so-called empire from real estate and now it just gives me an opportunity to really give back that knowledge and really help other people out.
"It is like a counselor. You know, these people are really stressed. I mean, I've had multiple rookie flippers crying on the show because it's serious. It's the real deal," he noted.
"Flipping 101 w/ Tarek El Moussa" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.