- Jamie Cody
- 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.”
- In 2011 Frankel sold her line of cocktails for a reported $100 million.
- Frankel explained how a difficult childhood and a lack of money for much of her career influenced the way she approached entrepreneurship and business opportunities.
You may know Bethenny Frankel from her lead role on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” but don’t dismiss her as simply a reality-TV star.
“I didn’t want to be on the show,” she told Business Insider for our podcast “Success! How I Did It.”
“I thought it was going to be a bunch of drunk people acting crazy and a disaster. It was, and I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people.”
Frankel’s name is the driving force behind an expanding empire of brands. She’s the brain behind Skinnygirl Cocktails, a company she sold to Beam Global in 2011 for a reported $100 million, while still retaining the rights to the Skinnygirl name.
You also may have seen her as an investor on the past couple of seasons of “Shark Tank.” And aside from her businesses, she runs B Strong, a charity that provided disaster relief aid to Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria last year.
Frankel told us that she doesn’t always have a grand plan but that she knows a good opportunity when she sees one.
And she’s been taking advantage of life’s curveballs since she was a kid, growing up around racetracks throughout New York state. Her parents weren’t always around, so she learned how to look out for herself.
Listen to the full episode here:
Subscribe to “Success! How I Did It” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. Check out previous episodes with:
- GOAT CEO Eddy Lu
- Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo
- Best-selling author David Sedaris
- Clique Brands CEO Katherine Power
Transcript edited for clarity.
Bethenny Frankel: I grew up in a very crazy household, in a very crazy life at the racetrack. I don’t think that some show with a bunch of morons fighting over who knows what is going to rattle me. I was never worried about the being on television. I’m cut out for anything. But monetizing the experience, I don’t know how anybody didn’t think of it first.
Richard Feloni: When do you think you had that first within you? Like you need to make something that has impact – you need to get out there and change things?
Frankel: I don’t think I think of it that way. I just do. I’m not as much of a thinker about it as I am a doer about it. I’ll have the idea, and then I’ll go and do it. I don’t spend a lot of time sitting around just in the plan. I build the plane while I’m flying it. Once the idea is born, that’s when really my brain starts flying with all the ideas, late at night, and adding ideas, and thinking about how things can be changed and different, and products and formulations and taglines. That’s when the hamster wheel really starts to get going, once the match gets lit.
Business opportunities are everywhere
Feloni: Did you have any indications that this was a path that you would end up on when you were a kid?
Frankel: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak in me. In high school we wanted to be able to have this big nightclub party, and so I rented out a space and charged the people in my senior class to get into that space and had a nightclub. When I was 13, I think, I wanted to have a party at my house, and so I worked at a bakery first to be able to pay for the party. Then I ended up also charging guests to come, because it was an expensive party, and I’d have to pay for all the cleanups, and my parents didn’t kill me at the time.
Feloni: You even used a high-school party as a business opportunity.
Frankel: Yes, I did. Later, I worked at a clothing store in New York City. I’ve worked as a hostess. I’ve worked as a waitress. I worked later as a natural-food chef running different restaurants. I’ve done healthy meals delivered to people’s homes. I was always hustling. I was always figuring out some way to just get by. It wasn’t that I was really making any money. I used to sell pashminas. I was one of the largest importers of pashminas in the world.
Feloni: So, scarves?
Frankel: I discovered these pashmina shawls, which were these coveted items that most people didn’t even know what they were, including myself. I took a very risky move and sent $6,000 that I did not have to India to a stranger. By the time that my multicolored pashmina arrived, I had had them all sold and orders for more, to celebrities like Salma Hayek and Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts and Kevin Costner for his girlfriend, his wife, or somebody like that.
But I was selling them to everybody at these pashmina parties. Then I had to take that to the next level and get a booth at the Magic Show, which is the apparel show in Vegas. Then I started distributing them to stores. I always had to take everything to a 10. Not everything worked. I expanded too quickly in the Princess Pashmina business, but I always had to take everything to a 10. I take it to the edge.
Feloni: Just going for it.
Frankel: My body’s in motion. I’m just going for it, yes.
Feloni: Stepping back a little bit too – you’ve spoken a lot about your childhood, that it could be rough at times. Could you kind of explain that and how that shaped you?
Frankel: I don’t know that I thought that it was rough. I just know now that it was rough, thinking back about it. I’ve seen abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, lived at the racetrack, didn’t really have any rules, was at the nightclubs when I was-
Feloni: Your father was a racehorse owner?
Frankel: My father and my stepfather were racehorse trainers. My mother was an exercise rider. Her father was a horse trainer. I grew up at the racetrack. Going to the betting windows when I was young. Going to nightclubs when I was 13 and 14. I had a very unusual childhood. I used to go into the city from Long Island by myself when I was 14 years old, to go to the Palladium. But I was always responsible, as weird as that sounds. I was an adult as a child. I saw so much as a very young child that I think it matured me in an unnatural and unusual way.
Feloni: How did that result in who you became as an adult?
Frankel: I don’t know. Growing up at the racetrack is a very action-filled place. Gambling is the base, and I’m definitely a risk-taker and a gambler, and people call me fearless. I think the upstairs, downstairs of the racetrack, there are wealthy sheikhs and blue bloods and people with last names like Firestone and Whitney and Vanderbilt, and then there are the people on the backside, where I would hang out, who feed the horses.
Having a horse trainer as a father, you kind of rode both lines. He would be working for an owner who was really superrich, who would be over in the boxes and in the paddock, and then working with the grooms and the hot walkers by the shed row.
Feloni: How did that impact you, being in both of those worlds?
Frankel: Just seeing highs and lows, seeing I can handle any situation. I can handle being in a room with royalty, and I could also handle being in a room with the grooms that have nothing. I think I’m a very high-low type of person.
On the fringes of fame
Feloni: You went to NYU, right?
Frankel: I went to BU and then NYU.
Feloni: After you graduated college, you went to LA. What were you going for?
Frankel: I wanted to be near the entertainment industry. I wanted to be an actress. I ended up meeting incredible people – not from being an actress. That was the most powerless gig you could ever have. You have no power over anything. You’re looked down on because you seem like you must be desperate. People know you don’t have any money, and you’re not in medical school or working in a job where you have any upward mobility. You’re just a person who’s asking somebody else for something, at all times, and I’m not into that. You’re always auditioning to get somebody to like you and try to be something that somebody else wants you to be.
I wasn’t for any of that. That did not work for me. I needed to be in the power position.
Feloni: What attracted you specifically to the entertainment world, as opposed to having power in, say, Wall Street or something like that?
Frankel: I didn’t know anything about Wall Street. I didn’t know anything about numbers. For years people have told me I would have been an excellent trader. But I didn’t know anything about it. I had no interest in it. I would have been a great lawyer, but I didn’t want to go to school for more years. I didn’t want to be a doctor. Entertainment seemed like something. I had some access there. I had some connection to LA. I didn’t have a big plan. This wasn’t a big plan.
Feloni: In 2005, you ended up on “The Apprentice” when Martha Stewart was hosting it. How did that come about?
Frankel: I fought to get on “The Apprentice,” because I had made a bet with somebody who said to me that there’s this show with Donald Trump, and these people, and they’re competing, and they’re selling lemonade, and there’s these tasks that you do. I said, “Oh my God, I would be great on that show. What is that show?” And the guy said, “I’ll get on the show. You’re not getting on that show. You would never get on that show.” I said to him, “Mark my words: I’ll get on that show.”
At this time I’d created Bethenny Bakes, which was a wheat-egg-and-dairy-cookie company, because I was a natural-food chef working at a restaurant in New York. I didn’t know how to tape myself, and I said to my partner, “Can you go buy the least expensive, lightest video camera, and can you videotape me?” He videotaped me selling cookies, and I sent it into “The Apprentice,” and they called.
I went through the process of trying to get on “The Apprentice” seasons two and three, which I did not make, and I kept in touch with the casting people without annoying them. I just kept connecting with them, and evidently they were saving me for the Martha Stewart “Apprentice.” That was how I got on the Martha Stewart “Apprentice,” which I wanted so badly and I took so seriously. And I was broke; I needed the job.
Feloni: When you’re looking to get here, did you see this as an opportunity to get on television, sell products – or that this would just be a chance to get things going?
Frankel: I think the Trump “Apprentice” was about the hustle. Just “I’m a hustler, and I think I would be good at that.” It’s like a scavenger hunt or something. “I think I would be good at that.”
Then when it got down to being Martha Stewart, I wanted to democratize health the way that she did style. I wanted to be a natural-food chef. I wanted to be a chef on television. I was very specific about what I wanted to do. This was me planning to monetize what I do, long before anybody has ever done that. Everybody was just there to win the money, but nobody was talking about what they were doing, and their dreams and hopes, or some product, or anything. That was like an unknown concept, which makes no sense, because I can’t imagine exposing yourself to reality TV and that kind of scrutiny and just drama and just toxic behavior without having an upside.
Becoming a ‘real housewife’
Feloni: It sounds like there was a direct line between that “Apprentice” appearance and “Real Housewives of New York City”?
Frankel: No. There was definitely not a direct line.
Feloni: There wasn’t?
Frankel: Not at all. “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” got 11 million viewers, which was a bomb at the time. Then I used it as the driest sponge to try to squeeze out the liquid of it for a little bit of press and something. It’s not that easy. It was, “Oh, I’ve cooked for Paris and Nicky.” I probably made them a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich once. “I’ve cooked for Paris and Nicky.” “I cooked for Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni on the set of ‘Law and Order,'” which I brought them food sometimes. It was me trying to really work this thing, because no one was getting any press from it.
I remember I got a spread in Life & Style. My big moment was I got a segment with Hoda about your food personality, the emotionality of food. I did that on the “Today” show. I had my cards. I was so prepared. Now I don’t prepare for anything. I did the segment. It seemed like it went well. I passed out, which I don’t ever even sleep. I was just so prepared, and my brain just went into overtime.
Feloni: You actually fainted?
Frankel: No. I just came home and I slept. I just don’t ever sleep. I passed out for a nap. That’s just not my personality. Then I was just always hustling. I was hustling my cookies, and hustling trying to be a chef, trying to get on the Food Network.
I was at the sport event Polo in the Hamptons, and someone came up to me and said, “Here, we’re trying to look for a fifth wife.” Bravo wanted five moms for a show called “Manhattan Moms.” They wanted them to be wealthy and aspirational and trying to get their kids into private schools, hard-to-get-into private schools. The production company was happy with the four that they had. They had already started filming. Bravo said, “We’re not going to film them. We’re not going to continue the show, and the show will get shut down unless you find the fifth.” They had four women that were sort of seemingly wealthy and a little flashy in the Hamptons – not quite socialites, because socialites shudder at the thought that the housewives would be anything close to what a real socialite is, whatever the hell that means, because they don’t do anything.
Then, on that day, they said that the producers were there. They ran into me. And I had a boyfriend that we weren’t even close to getting married, and I wasn’t close to having kids. I wasn’t close to having any money – I had $8,000 to my name. 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.
A month later, I said it’s not that easy to get on television, and maybe I should give this a try. Because if no one watches, then no one will care. If everyone watches, then it could be a success. I am a natural-food chef, and I did want to get on the Food Network, but maybe this is some sort of circuitous route. So I thought what the hell.
In the meantime, Andy Cohen was against it, because they didn’t want someone who had preexisting television experience. Now they’ll put actresses on, but at that time he wasn’t into it.
Feloni: Andy Cohen from Bravo, he was one of the producers of the show?
Frankel: He was an executive producer. He was a development executive at the time. He was against it because he just thought that we don’t want somebody who’s already been on television. That casting tape must have been pretty compelling because they put me on anyway.
Feloni: Why did you want to be on the show so badly?
Frankel: I didn’t want to be on the show. 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. It was, and I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people. It was, because at that time, people didn’t do two reality shows. You wouldn’t be on “The Apprentice” and then be on that show. Now it’s like you could do 10 reality shows. At that time, that was like, “Wait, this loser is doing that reality show, then this reality show? She’s now the reality-show girl.”
I wanted to be credible. I wanted to be on a cooking show, about being a natural-food chef. But I thought it’s not that easy to get on television and find a platform to monetize what you’re doing. Over here, maybe I can focus on the fact that I’m a natural-food chef, and something just told me – something just told me to try it.
I remember where I was in the Hamptons. I can remember like it was yesterday. I remember looking at the contract. I remember it saying $7,250 for the entire season, includes every single thing from makeup to wardrobe to location fees to everything. 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. I’ll do it, I’ll get paid whatever, but I’m not giving anything that I ever do, which became the Bethenny clause, which is now called the Bethenny clause.
Feloni: Why were they paying so little?
Frankel: The show had no budget. There was no budget, and people don’t get paid a lot when they go on reality television. A lot more than that now – probably if you start you can get 10 times that. But it was an unproven concept. There was one “Orange County Housewives” show that had fine, average ratings. It was $7,250 for the whole season.
Feloni: When you signed that, were you just saying, “This is my chance to sell my products to a large audience”?
Frankel: No, I wasn’t. I was just signing it, and I was just doing it. The man that I was with said to me, “You shouldn’t be filming it all when you’re not cooking.” I thought that sounded reasonable, and then you get into the show, and you’re talking, and you’re living, and you’re interacting. It’s about a lot more than food.
I made a conscious decision. I remember that call to my friend at the time, saying, “What do I do? Do I not discuss that? Do I not do this?” It was early on. It was before even the first episode was made. I just decided if I’m doing this, I owe it to this audience to be honest and open about everything and just go for it. I was totally honest and open about everything, and I went for it.
Feloni: How can you be authentic when you have a camera crew around you and you have producers trying to follow a narrative?
Frankel: Well, the producers aren’t in the same room. You do have cameras – but I’ve been doing this for so long. I did it on “The Apprentice.” On “The Apprentice,” they hide. They don’t even speak to you. You’re literally props. You get used to that sort of skill set. Maybe I’m different because of that. That was like boot-camp training, just “cameras do not exist.”
Feloni: You felt prepared already?
Frankel: I never think about the cameras. I just don’t. I’m used to it. It’s just a weird skill set. I feel totally natural with it, and it’s always truthful. From my perspective, it’s always real. It’s not manufactured. It’s just what’s going on. But it’s what’s going on within those people. You know what I mean? People will say, “Oh, is it real? Would you really have that conversation?” If I weren’t on this show with these seven women, would I have that exact conversation? No. But if I weren’t in this room with you, I wouldn’t have this exact conversation either. It’s like, that’s the show that I’m on with these people. This is who I’m having lunch with. This is who I’m interacting with. And these are the conversations that I’m having with these people.
Feloni: Is that person in front of the camera a different person from who you are, like, around your family or your friends in private?
Frankel: I don’t think so, no. I can be very tough on the show and very nice on the show, and I can be very tough in my other life and very nice. You don’t see me as a mother, which is when I’m definitely my happiest, my softest, my most selfless. With my dogs too. You don’t really see that. You don’t get to see what I really am like in a relationship. You just can imagine that it’s like this Cruella de Vil, whipping whoever I’m in a relationship with, which it’s not like that at all. I’m a pretty good partner.
You don’t get to see everything, which is OK, which is good for me. You don’t have to show every single thing.
Feloni: At what point on the show did you realize that, OK, this is actually going to be a chance where I could build a business?
Frankel: I knew that I was going to get a spin-off. I don’t know why; I just knew it. I knew it early on. I think I knew it in the first season. I could just feel it. I felt different, to be honest. I felt different.
Feloni: How do you mean?
Frankel: I just understood what was going on. Andy Cohen called me the Greek chorus and the narrator. I don’t think he says that anymore, because I don’t think anyone would like him to say that anymore. But I was able to connect to that audience and understand that they don’t understand what it’s like to pack a car to go to the Hamptons, and that you’re literally packing like you’re moving to Croatia to drive two hours to see everybody that you already know, that you probably saw this morning at the bagel store on the way there. It’s like a satire.
I think that I had this way of connecting and narrating and commenting. I just knew that I was a valuable asset in this, just because I’m an honest storyteller, and there’s a lot of comedy along the way.
Feloni: On the show, and when you had a spin-off, you shared some really intimate moments, such as insights into your pregnancy, the birth of your daughter, your relationship. Did it ever feel like a sacrifice?
Frankel: Yes, it’s felt like a sacrifice, but it’s a very high-paid sacrifice. It’s a job, and you’re not always comfortable at your job. I’m very lucky to have this job. If I were in a coal mine or working in asbestos, I would not like my job maybe. It’s sort of like, “This week sucks. I look like crap on the show – physically, mentally. I said something stupid.” Everybody doesn’t like their job all the time. It is real, it is my interaction, but I am being paid.
Also, you’d rather have who I really am than be faking it. Many people – and I know exactly who they are that are on these shows – are kind of acting. They’re being their best self. They’re saying what they think they should say. They’re saying what the viewer would want them to say. I don’t do that. I say what I really feel, and sometimes people get pissed off. Because sometimes what I say could piss people off, but that’s what I was really feeling. I’m giving it to you real. You may not like it, but it’s how I really feel about it.
Feloni: I’ve actually seen a bunch of the show now. Things could get pretty crazy. Did you ever feel like maybe if there was a crazy fight or just something really silly on the show that that could negatively impact your business?
Frankel: There are a lot of things that can negatively impact your business. You don’t get paid this to not take risks, and it’s very scary. I wonder when the ride will stop. I don’t think it will be very long before the ride stops, because I’ve done incredibly well. I have so much more to risk than when I started. I have partners that are multibillion-dollar corporations. I can’t screw around. This is a big juggernaut business now. By the same token, the show helps this big juggernaut business. There’s a fine line.
Feloni: In doing deals, have you ever had to defend yourself for being on a show that could get pretty crazy sometimes?
Frankel: I’ve transcended the having to defend the show, because of all the amazing success that I’ve created despite the show, and the relief efforts.
Feloni: But what about the time before that?
Frankel: Before that, who cared? I was nobody. What am I defending?
Finally making it
Feloni: At what point did you realize that you didn’t have to scrape by anymore?
Frankel: When I was on the cover of Forbes and made that money from the Skinnygirl Cocktails sale-
Feloni: So like 2011?
Frankel: Yeah. But I don’t even know that I realized I didn’t have to – I guess I intellectually knew it, but I didn’t feel it. It took me a while to start purchasing things and paying expensive bills for things that I would have cringed at then. Just like, today I got a bill for a $4,300 for a pool heater. Yesterday it was $5,000 to fix some paint. When you buy houses and you get into another level, every day it’s something expensive.
Literally, before “Housewives,” I would have been crying in a corner for a $4,000 pool-heater bill. I didn’t have a pool to heat, but if there were any sort of bill that came for $4,000, it would have broken me. I would have been hysterically crying. It’s very strange to live in a world where you can get a bill for a pool heater for $4,300 like you ate a sandwich and that would have killed you not so long ago.
Feloni: Did getting a level of success and money change your ambitions at all?
Frankel: It’s bigger game hunting now. But by the same token, I know that I don’t have to do any of the things that I’m doing, and it gives me a freedom. It gives me an exit strategy if I want it. But I haven’t really done everything that I want to do in business. I look at business for myself – and I guess a little bit reality TV – as when the tables are hot, you press your bets. Right now the tables are hot, knock on wood. If they go cold, I’ll walk. That’s how I feel.
I don’t want to be mentally stressed and unhappy. I have moments on “Real Housewives” where I feel that way. And yeah, I think to myself, is this really worth it? I’m balancing weighing the options and how long I should do it for. It’s always a back-and-forth conversation.
Feloni: Would you ever sell the Skinnygirl brand itself?
Frankel: Maybe. Depends on the number. People have circled. I’ve just had someone circle, just had someone offer. It’d have to be the right number and the right strategic partner.
Feloni: When I’m looking at what you’ve been saying, it seems like having total control of your brand is very important to you. But Skinnygirl, is that just an element of it? Like, you’d be able to do something else after?
Frankel: 100%. 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. It could be called anything. In this case, I own 100% of it. It’s a great feeling.
Feloni: Where does “Real Housewives” factor into this now, because now you’re established, you have your brand – what do you want to get from the show at this point?
Frankel: I still love this audience so much. This is my audience. I can be in a restaurant, I can be in a mall, and I can look at somebody and I know that they watch, that they know who I am. I know that we connect. I know it’s a mom who is multitasking, trying to work, trying to get their kids to school, who is a certain age, who wants to be a little healthy, is just trying to look OK to get through the day, and not overly spoiled.
I know exactly who my customer is. I could literally point them out on a street. We connect. We have a relationship. They’ve helped me create one of the largest private relief efforts in history. They tell me when there’s an infringement on a trademark of Skinnygirl in another country. They are my people, and so I love that connection. This audience is connected to “Housewives,” and they love the fodder, and they can relate to this in their cul-de-sac. Something’s going on that’s similar at their country club, at their school, at their PTA.
Feloni: How do you personally define success?
Frankel: I define success through my daughter. I really do. I’m the most happy when we’ve connected and we’ve spent days together.
Feloni: How old is she now?
Frankel: She’s 8. We call it “camp mommy” – I spend so much time with her. That’s the most rewarding, fulfilling thing to feel that you’re a good mother and that you’re nurturing your child and reading books with them at night.
She’s not a very on-the-phone, on-the-computer kid, so I feel that that’s a success, because I love her just being a free-range kid. I want her to be in my backyard and out swimming and doing things that are natural, to try to preserve any of what I had … Not me. I had a crazy childhood, but what kids had as a child was more natural.
But I have a great kid. I have a great relationship with her, and to me that really is the best success.
Feloni: Do you have a grand vision for what you want to accomplish with your businesses?
Frankel: I’ve got a couple of things that I’m working on that are going to be monstrous. I don’t want to rest on my laurels. Skinnygirl was great, but that was a while ago, and so let’s see if I can ring the bell again and again. It’s been great to do so much charitable work and to be able to have the free time to do it and the means to do it. I’d love to do more of that. I’m going to make a lot of money and be able to give back even more.
Feloni: With your B Strong charity work, when you went to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, you were one of the first people there, along with people like chef Jose Andres, before the US government even sent relief. How did if feel for you to be there before the government was? What compelled you to go in the first place?
Frankel: I was there before Trump was there, which was surprising. It was like a war zone. It felt like you had to be completely rogue and you could do anything you wanted because nobody was there. It was by any means necessary. It was just: Get it done. Just figure it out, and get it done. Just find people you can trust, and distribute.
But at that time, you could drive 15 minutes out of San Juan with a truck – just a truck – and people would line up for two hours, hundreds of people, not even knowing what was on the truck. They were dying. They were literally on their roofs. They had been going back and forth from inside their house, wherever they could stand. Because it was mud – disgusting, crusted mud – that their cars were sealed shut with. Their house was filled with mud. They would be waiting on the roof for water. They were rationing water. One woman, her husband had such a tiny amount of his insulin left. They were waiting for people to come, and no one was coming.
This wasn’t two hours out of San Juan – this was 15 minutes out of San Juan. It was insane.
Feloni: Were you compelled to go there just because nothing was really happening?
Frankel: I was compelled to go there because I’d gone to Houston, which I was nervous to do, when people were telling me not to go. Then I went to Jojutla, Mexico, by helicopter – also there before their governor – after a terrible earthquake, and so many people were dead. It was horrible. Then I guess I felt that I had started this movement and it was my responsibility to go.
It doesn’t have to be a neat path to success
Feloni: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Frankel: You have to get on the road. You can’t be stuck in your plan. You can’t be stuck in your story. You can’t be stuck in how good you think your idea is, because everybody will tell you what you want to hear. Numbers do not lie; people do.
I would say to be on the road, start the journey, and get dirty, and clean yourself off, and take another path. Get locked out, and find a way to climb in another way. You’ve got to get on the road and figure out what it is that you want to do, what value you add, what clicks, what doesn’t.
Being stuck in a book isn’t going to do it. Being stuck in your business plan isn’t going to do it. Being obsessed with knowing exactly what you want to do at a very young age isn’t going to do it either. I didn’t know what I was going to do until I was in my late 30s, and I still don’t even know. But literally, I wasn’t even on any close path, because I did so many things and traveled and had so many boyfriends and businesses, which all was an education to ultimately hone in and find out what your real passion is and what you’re really great at. I didn’t know any of this.
Feloni: When you’re pushing forward, did you have a point where you questioned yourself? Where you questioned what you were doing in the first place?
Frankel: Before getting on “The Apprentice” and doing the cookies and the pashminas, I definitely questioned. I had no money. I was trying to pay my rent, which was $2,600, which is like $1 million to me now, maybe more. I couldn’t do it, and I had to sell things. My assistant was getting paid more than I was. I couldn’t light the match, and I was in my 30s.
But I would say everything is your business. When I was in a bakery, if you’re chopping Christmas trees, if you’re delivering papers, if you’re making coffee at your job. But the people who say, “I’ve got this, I’m on it” – you make everything your business. You’re going to make the best latte possible. Those people are the people who are successful, not the people that are sitting there making $24,000 a year, complaining that they shouldn’t be making coffee, that they shouldn’t be doing this. They didn’t go to school for this. It’s called tough sh–. Tough sh–.
Do the job. Just do the job. Do whatever job it is. Because I’ve done every single job – you never know when it’s going to help you and you get to the next job.
Feloni: Just keep pushing forward.
Frankel: Yeah, of course.
Feloni: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Bethenny.
Frankel: Awesome. Thank you.