"Real Housewives of Orange County" star Gretchen Rossi is telling friends ... Tamra Barney's new engagement is based on a money-grubbing lie -- manufactured by show producers desperate for a dramatic finale.
Sources close to Gretchen tell TMZ, producers originally approached Gretchen's BF Slade about proposing -- hoping he'd pop the question in time for the show's big finale this year. We're told producers even attempted to bribe Slade with an exotic proposal destination ... and a FREE RING.
We're told Slade turned the offer down -- convinced the public already hated him enough without a fake proposal -- so producers turned to Tamra and her BF Eddie Judge out of spite.
We're told Tamra and Eddie instantly snatched up the proposal package -- and her whole proposal was then conveniently filmed for the show ... at the same exotic location that was allegedly offered to Slade.
Bravo had no comment.
'OC Housewife' Gretchen Rossi
Tamra's Engagement Is a SHAM
3/19/2012 4:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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