Bethenny Frankel: I Used Reality TV to Build a $120 Million Empire

The Real Housewives and Bethenny Ever After star opens up about using her celebrity to succeed at business

We all know that former Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel won't let anything get in her way. A wisecracking, smart entrepreneur, she has, against the odds, turned her reality-TV celebrity into a mammoth business empire.

Frankel began as a the founder of BethennyBakes, a gluten-and-dairy-free delivery service on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where she lives. Her accomplishments since then have been nothing less than spectacular, and it was recently announced that Frankel has sold her Skinnygirl cocktail line to Fortune Brands' Beam Global (the world's fourth-largest spirits distributor) for what insiders say is a staggering $120 million!

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Frankel opens up about how this acquisition came about and reveals that her true motiviations for going on Real Housewives were "single-handedly and exclusively for business." Seems to have paid off.

Of the $120 mil deal she says, "It's a feat never before seen in the spirits marketplace by a single celebrity, unless you count Ciroc's nearly $100 million deal to bring on Sean 'Diddy' Combs as part-owner of its premium vodka for promotional value."

Frankel makes no bones about using Housewives to promote her Skinnygirl brand -- among other ventures. "I just decided to be totally honest and own it," she says. "You can't do something you don't stand for just to make money. It's a smart audience, people will realize it."

As for why she's been so successful, Frankel believes its because her ideas and products offer real value. "Everything I create is a solution to a problem that women have," she explains. "I don't like to wear lingerie, but my husband loves it. So I created lazy lingerie. You wear it under a blazer or sweater during the day, but when you pull it off, you have on lingerie. It solves a problem."

After leaving The Real Housewives of New York, Frankel branched out with her own Bravo spin-off show, Bethenny Ever After, detailing her life with new husband Jason Hoppy. The show has been a smash hit (the second season generated more than 1 million viewers a week). In addition, Frankel has also published a couple of best-selling books and come out with a clothing line. But Frankel doesn't want to stop there.

Rumor has it that she wants her own talk show, and that she even might be ready to walk away from Bethenny Ever After. "I like to leave a party when it's in full swing," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't want to be there at 3 in the morning with the scary guy in the bad sweater with no teeth. I like to leave when everyone still has their teeth."

While Frankel has obviously turned her celebrity status into big big business, her publisher, Simon & Schuster, is quick to differentiate Frankel from the other stars looking to cash in on their reality-TV 15 minutes of fame. "There's no little fairy with pixie dust here," says a spokesperson for the publisher. "Cinderella does everything she should and in the end she still gets screwed until her fairy godmother comes. She didn't need to wait for that magic. This is all Bethenny."

It is, indeed! $120 million dollars' worth!

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