When Bethenny Frankel was cast on 'Real Housewives of New York,' she had $8,000 to her name

Jamie CodyBethenny Frankel sold Skinnygirl Cocktails for $US100 million in 2011.

  • Bethenny Frankel is the CEO of Skinnygirl, a brand empire she built through her role on the reality show “Real Housewives of New York City.”
  • Frankel said she did not want to be on “Real Housewives” at first, but she ended up profiting off of it.
  • Frankel said she only had $US8,000 in the bank when she was cast on the reality show.

When Bethenny Frankel signed on to do “The Real Housewives of New York,” she accepted a contract for less than what she had in the bank, she said on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success” (formerly “Success! How I Did It”).

Frankel, now the CEO of Skinnygirl, wanted to be a natural-food chef, she said, and fought for a chance to be on Martha Stewart’s season of “The Apprentice” in 2005.

“I wanted [that show] so badly and I took [it] so seriously. And I was broke; I needed the job,” she said.

In the years following “The Apprentice,” Frankel kept “hustling” and was eventually approached to star in Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York,” but she wasn’t thrilled with the offer, she said.

“I didn’t want to be on the show. I thought it was going to be a bunch of drunk people acting crazy and a disaster,” Frankel said. “It was, and I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people.” Frankel said she was offered $US7,250 for the entire first season (which aired in 2008), including makeup, wardrobe, location fees, etc, she said.

She continued: “I wasn’t close to having any money – I had $US8,000 to my name,” Frankel said. “They met me, and they wanted me. It was so funny because I was nothing like any of the other women and nothing like any of the mandate for who to cast. They pursued me; I said no.”

Eventually Frankel agreed to the contract, with one exception. “I remember crossing out where it said that I would give any part of any of my business. The only thing I said was ‘I’m not giving any of my business,'” Frankel said. This became known as the Bethenny Clause.

Frankel said she didn’t plan to use the show as a platform to sell her products. But since then, her name and career have skyrocketed. Today, Frankel runs Skinnygirl Cocktails, which she sold to Beam Global in 2011 for $US100 million while retaining the name rights, and B Strong, a charity for hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

“There’s the brand of Bethenny. There’s the B brand. There’s the brand of me just being a woman and a mother and an entrepreneur,” Frankel said. “It could be called anything. In this case, I own 100% of it. It’s a great feeling.”

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