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Bethenny Frankel: I Used Reality TV to Make $120 Million

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For a Skinnygirl, Bethenny Frankel has a fat wallet!

The 40-year-old entrepreneur was hesitant to participate in reality TV when Bravo executives approached her in 2007; now, the natural-foods-chef turned mogul tells the Hollywood Reporter it was her screen-time that provided her the platform to launch a $120 million empire.

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"I was worried [joining the cast of Real Housewives of New York] would ruin what I had going," says Frankel, who at the time was a Pepperidge Farm spokesperson and appeared on NBC's Today show for a cooking segment. "I went on the show single-handedly and exclusively for business… When I went on the show, no one was going on for business, no one had done anything." 

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Throughout three seasons of Real Housewives, Frankel maximized her screen time and promoted her now-famous Skinnygirl product line. In 2010, she got her own reality show: Bethenny Ever After.

Under her own personal business umbrella, she's launched a successful publishing franchise, a Body by Bethenny workout DVD and scored one of the most lucrative liquor deals in the industry with her calorie-conscious mixes.

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Before her success on reality TV, Frankel's pitches to liquor companies for a low-calorie margarita went unheeded. "Now, every company I pitched this idea to has either tried to buy Skinnygirl or has copied it," she relishes. "I created a sub-category that never existed. I wasn't an expert–I was just another person bothered by a 700-calorie margarita."

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