‘RHONY’: Bethenny Frankel Thought Being on the Show Would Destroy Her Career

Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York City admits she was hesitant to join the show because she was worried it would ruin any chance of becoming a natural food chef.

Alex McCord, Jill Zarin, Bethenny Frankel
Alex McCord, Jill Zarin, Bethenny Frankel| Barbara Nitke/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

“I didn’t want to do [the show],” Frankel said on The Carlos Watson Show. “I had been on The Apprentice, the Martha Stewart Apprentice. The opportunity came and they kept approaching me and I said no, for two months to the new Housewives.”

“And I thought this will be a bunch of women getting wasted and a train wreck,” she continued. “I don’t wanna be on that. I wanna be a real natural food chef and I’d like to get a cooking show and this will destroy any opportunities I have.”

Bethenny Frankel took a leap of faith

Frankel re-evaluated the opportunity, concluding that she probably had nothing to lose by being on the show. “I checked in with the producers again,” Frankel said. “Because I thought if it’s a failure, no one will hear about it. But if its a success, I can be a natural food chef and promote that. So, ignorance is bliss.”

“I just started filming it,” she continued. “And once we filmed the first season, I thought it would become a cultural phenomoenon. Once it got going I said this is going to be a cultural phenomenon and it certainly was.”

Ramona Singer, Jill Zarin, Lu-Ann de Lesseps, Bethenny Frankel, Alex McCord
Ramona Singer, Jill Zarin, Lu-Ann de Lesseps, Bethenny Frankel, Alex McCord | Jay Sullivan/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

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Frankel quickly became a fan favorite on RHONY as fans watched her launch her multi-million dollar company. In the early days, Frankel would order a “skinny” cocktail when she’d be filmed having drinks with the cast. As she progressed in her career as a chef, her cocktails took focus, and eventually, she launched her Skinnygirl brand.

Frankel is the reason for the ‘Bethenny Clause’

Frankel’s instincts were right on the money. Not only did the show provide her with a platform to become a natural food chef, but it also helped to catapult an entire brand. Since then, many Housewives cast members have launched businesses, using the show as an opportunity to discuss their new brand.

The network recognized this and ultimately instituted what is referred to as the “Bethenny Clause” on new cast member contracts. Former RHONY cast member Heather Thomson dished about the additional clause when she appeared on the Out in the Wild podcast

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“By the way, when you sign that contract you basically say you can make me look and say anything you want,” Thomson said. Adding that cast members now need to be aware of the clause. “Where people that had businesses then that [Bravo] wanted to own a piece of that business.” Thomson said, adding she would have never been on the show if she had to share a piece of her brand. “I already made a $32 million business when I launched being on the show.”

Thomson said Bravo is looking for an uptick in the business. “I think that they watch people launch these businesses on the show and they’re not looking for like $10,000,” she said. “They’re looking to see when businesses make a good amount of money because of the show, like Skinnygirl.”