Some of my experiences:
Scribus will convert images (and other colors) to CMYK if you enable color management (File -> Document Setup -> Color Management -> Activate Color Management) and choose the right export settings in the export dialog. In the Document Setup, you can also choose the right color profiles according to your printer.
In the export dialog int the Color tab, you should always choose Output Intended for: Printer.
In the General tab of the export dialog, you need to choose the PDF version/compatibility that suits your needs:
- PDF/X-1a will always convert everything to CMYK.
- PDF/X-3 will not convert RGB images to CMYK, but embed the appropriate color profile for all RGB images instead. If your printer asks for PDF/X-3 but also asks for CMYK only images, choose PDF/X-1a instead.
- PDF1.3/1.4 will convert images to CMYK if all options under the Color tab are deselected. It will export RGB images with embedded profiles just like PDF/X-3 when Images: Use Color Profile is enabled in the Color tab.
Also bear in mind that transparency is only supported in PDF1.4 onwards.
IMHO it is not a good idea to convert images to CMYK manually beforehand, particularly if you also intend to publish your document digitally (Color tab -> Screen/Web). Also, I get the impression that some copy shops actually prefer RGB PDFs because their digital printing systems indeed expect RGB input (just like home printers). In that case, it can even make sense to set up font colors etc. in RGB instead of CMYK.
You can double-check whether images in the exported PDF are in CMYK with:
pdfimages -list output.pdf
Sources: https://wiki.scribus-user.de/themen:farbmanagement and own tests