Donald and Melania Trump are in a "transactional" marriage in which he gets a hot wife and she gets security, a former family friend has claimed.

Ex-Vogue magazine executive Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was friends with the First Lady for 15 years before they fell out, insinuated the US President and his model wife were, in fact, not in love.

"I do believe it's a transactional marriage. Donald got arm candy," Winston Wolkoff, the former senior adviser to FLOTUS, said in an interview with the BBC.

"Melania got two dynamic decades. She was a young model, she didn't have success yet. She met Donald, she married, she became an American citizen, they had a son and 10 years after that she's the First Lady of the United States.

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"I do believe it was a magic moment, and I also believe it was a made-for-TV moment."

Her comments come as her controversial new tell-all book, Melania & Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with The First Lady, was released on September 1. It is the first book written about Melania by someone who has been in her inner circle.

The book has been slammed by a spokeswoman for Melania, who said it was full of "mistruths".

"Twenty years ago, she had been a barely-getting-by model in Paris," Winston Wolkoff writes in her book, according to an extract published in New York magazine's Intelligencer section.

"Thirty years ago, she'd lived in Communist Slovenia.

"On the inauguration programme ... she wanted to be listed as 'First Lady-Elect' even though, as I reminded her, she had not in fact been elected."

Several other claims in the book include Melania's secret war with the President's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and that the First Lady uses a private email account, which Donald Trump criticised Hillary Clinton for doing during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Winston Wolkoff fell out with the First Lady after helping to produce Donald Trump's US$107 million inauguration in 2017, which was double the cost of Barack Obama's.

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Controversy erupted over potential misuse of funds at the time, which was even the subject of a federal investigation, though Winston Wolkoff claims she was a scapegoat for decisions made by the Trump administration.

She was upset the Trumps didn't defend her when The New York Times reported her firm had been paid more than US$26 million for its role in the inauguration.

There are several damaging claims about Melania and Donald Trump in the new book. Photo / Getty Images
There are several damaging claims about Melania and Donald Trump in the new book. Photo / Getty Images

However, it has been reported that Winston Wolkoff's book was, in part, based on secret audio recordings of the First Lady, in which Melania criticised her husband and other members of the family.

Winston Wolkoff has admitted to recording some of her conversations with Melania, saying she did it to protect herself from becoming the "fall guy" over the alleged misuse of funds.

Melania's spokeswoman and chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, issued a scathing statement about Winston Wolkoff's book earlier this month.

"Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is by definition dishonest," Grisham said.

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"The book is full of mistruths and paranoia, and clearly based on some imagined need for revenge."

Donald and Melania Trump (nee Knauss) were married in January 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. The couple have one son together, Barron Trump, 14.