"This is an example of Donald Trump managing, and the type of leadership he will bring to the presidency in November," Manafort said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. "He also understood that winning isn't enough, that it's about how you win and how much you win."
Manafort told CNN, "I work directly for the boss," a notable departure from the usual workflow at Trump's 2016 operation, where most campaign staff answer to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Manafort joins the Trump campaign as a contested Republican convention becomes more likely. Trump suffered a critical loss to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Tuesday in the Wisconsin primary. However, the strategist says he is confident the Cruz campaign will hit a rough patch, allowing Trump to win the 1,237 delegates
needed to win the nomination outright.
"Utah and New York are two different states," he said. "By the time we get to California, the momentum is going to be clear, and Ted Cruz's path to victory will be in shambles."
Donald Trump has 746 delegates to date of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright, meaning Trump would have to win the remaining 61% of delegates up for grabs.
Manafort is also optimistic Trump will block Cruz's chance of winning on the first ballot if the convention is contested.
"You got to understand what the game is. If the game is a second, third or fourth ballot then what he's doing is clever, but on the first ballot it is meaningless."
Manafort's experience in campaigns goes back to the 1976 contested Republican convention
. Trump's hiring of Manafort fueled speculation he was replacing campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
However, Manafort insists there was no internal shakeup.
"I listen to everybody," he said. "I view my job as making sure people get to understand and meet Donald Trump."