In July 2014, Richie's reality show Candidly Nicole premiered on VH1 and ran for two seasons. When she was three years old, her biological parents agreed to let her move in with Lionel Richie because they could not afford to provide for her."My parents were friends with Lionel," she told People in 2003.
In 2005, Richie made her acting debut in the comedic drama Kids in America.
Richie has guest starred in television series including Eve, Six Feet Under and American Dreams, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, and playing the recurring character Heather Chandler on Chuck.
In 2003, Richie and her then–best friend Paris Hilton starred in the reality series The Simple Life, in which they lived for a month with a family in the rural community of Altus, Arkansas.
The series premiere debuted on Fox on December 2, 2003, to 13 million viewers, increasing Fox's reach among viewers 18–49.
Fox subsequently canceled the show after a dispute between Hilton and Richie, but it was aired by E!
Entertainment Television for its fourth season, drawing nearly one million viewers and was followed by a relatively unsuccessful fifth season.
"I was four years old in a studio, watching my dad record "We Are the World" and today I get to do it again.
Excited to help make a change," she later said of the experience.
"They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me." Lionel and Brenda went through a bitter public split; as a result, they were indulgent to the young Nicole.
"Their way of making me happy was to say, 'yes,' to everything I wanted, but I don't think a little girl should have that much freedom," said Richie in an interview with Vanity Fair.
In April 2005, reports surfaced that Richie and longtime friend Paris Hilton were no longer speaking.