The Stunning Transformation Of Bethenny Frankel

American personality Bethenny Frankel has been impressing the world since joining "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" in 2005, known for her signature wit, blunt opinions, and sassy attitude. Although she is most recognizable as one of the original cast members of "The Real Housewives of New York City," which premiered in 2008 (via Fandom), Frankel is a woman of many talents and aspirations beyond reality TV. The New York native owns a multi-million-dollar business, has produced and starred in her own television shows, has written several books, and hosts her own podcast, all while being a single mom (via CNBC).


Despite her massive wealth and fame, Frankel came from humble beginnings. From a young age, the mogul leveraged her intense drive and fierce mindset to survive and thrive in a harsh and competitive industry. But how exactly did she get to where she is today? Here's a look into the stunning transformation of Bethenny Frankel.

She had a tumultuous childhood

Bethenny Frankel's biological father, the highly successful horse trainer Bobby Frankel, left the family when she was only four years old. Her mother, Bernadette, went on to marry another horse trainer named John Parisella, who Frankel described as the primary father figure in her life (via People). 


While growing up, Frankel was subjected to a plethora of abuse from both her mother and stepfather. She claimed that her mother was an alcoholic and that the fights between her mother and stepfather would often turn physically violent — to the point where Frankel would hide in closets and call the police. "I never had a true childhood," she told People in 2010.

Frankel's mother was also severely bulimic, something Frankel cites as sparking her passion for healthy eating. During her teenage years, Frankel also lived a reckless lifestyle, experimenting with hard drugs and gambling. Her relationship with her mother appears to be strained (via Life & Style); she unsuccessfully attempted to reconnect with her biological father before his death.


Bethenny Frankel made it on her own

Having to raise herself from a young age, the ambitious entrepreneur managed to turn her life around by the time she reached adulthood. Bethenny Frankel earned her degree in psychology and communications from NYU, then moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to pursue acting (via Forbes). There, she had a brief stint as young Paris Hilton's nanny, and then became the personal assistant to film producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his wife Linda Bruckheimer. Frankel first dipped her toes into the business world when she started a short-lived party planning company based in Beverly Hills called In Any Event.


"I didn't know what I was doing; I was broke. I was eating cartons of takeout rice two meals a day," Frankel told Forbes in 2011 while describing how the company went under. A strong woman who doesn't give up when faced with setbacks, she managed to turn things around by selling luxury scarves under the company name Princess Pashmina. "Pashminas were like crack," she said. "Everybody wanted them, and I had them." However, Frankel found her true calling with food when she decided to enroll in culinary school, graduating in 2001 (via People).

She got her first TV gig on Martha Stewart's competition series

Things truly took off for Bethenny Frankel when she started baking health-conscious cookies in 2003. Two years later, she broke into the mainstream spotlight when she starred in the spin-off series "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." She ultimately came in second place, losing to Dawna Stone, per the Daily Mail. On her talk show in 2013, Frankel admitted to Stewart that she was still hurt and confused by the rejection. She directly asked Stewart why she wasn't chosen. After initially hesitating to answer, Stewart admitted that Frankel's loss was indeed personal. 


"You weren't so likable then. You weren't. No, you weren't. You were a pest, you were a pest and you were so out there in front of everybody," Stewart commented, although she congratulated Frankel on making it past hundreds of other contestants and the show's strict producers. "It was such a big moment in my life," Frankel then reflected on her time on the series.

Bethenny made a name for herself on reality TV

Perhaps her biggest claim to fame to this date, Bethenny Frankel is known for starring in "The Real Housewives of New York City." She made her debut on the show in 2008 after being approached by Bravo. According to the Daily Beast, Frankel was struggling financially when she joined the show, and initially only intended to appear on camera to promote her cooking business. However, this plan was short-lived, as she became one of the central figures of the show. 


Frankel also apparently was unaware of what the series entailed when she joined the cast, especially regarding how much the stars were expected to expose their own personal lives. "I made a decision that if I was going to do this with people watching, then I'm going to have to reveal myself. And so people connected to me, and that's in turn why they ended up buying my products," she said.

Her RHONY seasons were filled with drama

"The Real Housewives of New York City" is an iconic reality series known for its many catty conflicts amongst the female cast members, and Bethenny Frankel was no exception to this pattern. She appeared on Seasons 1 through 3 before taking a hiatus and coming back for Seasons 7 through 11, per Page Six


Perhaps Frankel's most notable drama on the show was the gradual deterioration of her four-year friendship with Carole Radziwill (via E! News). Frankel and Radziwill first connected when Frankel reappeared for the show's 7th season. However, things began to fall apart when Radziwill ran a marathon and expressed disappointment that Frankel was not there to support her due to her performing charity work in Puerto Rico. The two then began arguing frequently online, with Frankel implying that Radziwill was superficial and Radziwill calling Frankel narcissistic in a blog post.

"I never expected that to happen," Radziwill told E! News. "I feel like we truly developed a friendship off the show, and then I just saw some behavior that I just didn't think was consistent with someone I would consider a really good friend."


Conflict surrounded her departure from RHONY

According to Variety, "The Real Housewives of New York City" saw increased ratings when Bethenny Frankel rejoined the show in 2015. However, she announced her departure from RHONY in 2019. The news came after she signed a contract with MGM to produce unscripted projects; she reportedly left the show to focus on those endeavors.


"With the changes in modern culture, I want to highlight the strength, confidence, and unstoppable power that women have," Frankel said in a statement. "My experience at Bravo has been an incredibly magical ride. I am so grateful to them for highlighting my entrepreneurialism and allowing me to pave the way for many women to achieve their goals."

According to E! News, there was speculation from fans that Frankel chose to leave the show due to salary and legal disputes. However, she shut these rumors down in a TikTok video, where she addressed the clause that said she wouldn't get paid for episodes she didn't appear in. "I was ready to leave, and I used a technicality deal point as my excuse," she said.


Bethenny Frankel had other reality TV projects

"The Real Housewives of New York City" wasn't Bethenny Frankel's only reality TV endeavor. She collaborated with Bravo again in 2010 for the show "Bethenny Ever After," which chronicled her attempt to juggle her personal life and hectic career (via People). The series concluded after three well-received seasons when Frankel decided to focus her efforts on her business projects (via Us Weekly).


Frankel also briefly dabbled in the talk show universe with "Bethenny," which was produced by Ellen DeGeneres. It aired in 2012 and was canceled after one season, much to the disappointment of Frankel herself, according to E! News.

However, Frankel managed to bounce back years later with a new project titled "Bethenny & Fredrik," which documented her chaotic friendship with real estate mogul Fredrik Eklund. This show also ended after one season due to constant fighting between the main stars, according to The Cinemaholic.

Most recently, the mogul took to HBO Max with a miniseries titled "The Big Shot With Bethenny," which aired in 2021. Drawing inspiration from Frankel's days with "The Apprentice," the competition show follows the story of Frankel attempting to find a business partner for her many successful companies, per Variety.


She has made other notable TV appearances

Bethenny Frankel has also appeared on camera with mainstream television projects that she did not produce herself. In 2010, she was a contestant on the short-lived, one-season show "Skating With The Stars," per Entertainment Weekly. She impressively managed to finish in second place behind "All My Children" star Rebecca Budig, making her yet again a runner-up in a reality competition series.


Frankel also put her business knowledge to use when she was a guest on "Shark Tank" in Seasons 9 and 10. There, she assimilated with the investors' cutthroat mindsets when it came to what makes a worthwhile company. "You're a brand if you understand exactly what your product is, if you know exactly who's buying it," she said to CNBC.

In 2018, Frankel again teamed up with "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban to appear on an episode of "Bar Rescue." According to People, she assisted with the reconstruction of a bar in Puerto Rico, which had been destroyed in Hurricane Maria.

Bethenny is an established entrepreneur

Aside from her days as a reality star on "The Real Housewives of New York City," Bethenny Frankel is also widely associated with her well-received business endeavors. During her time on RHONY, she established her famous brand, Skinnygirl, behind the scenes. What started as pre-packaged cocktails — more specifically, margaritas — expanded into a widely consumed line of various foods, such as popcorn, chips, and salad dressing, per The New Yorker. Using Frankel's signature petite figure to promote her brand, Skinnygirl managed to become a household name in the organic food industry in a very short period of time. 


According to The New Yorker, Frankel got the idea for the initial product after wanting a "go-to" alcoholic drink. Skinnygirl was frequently featured on RHONY as product placement — and the rest is history. "I turned a brand around in, like, a year on television and nobody even knew I was doing it," Frankel told the outlet.

Her sale of the Skinnygirl brand made her millions

In 2011, a mere two years after the brand was created, Bethenny Frankel sold the Skinnygirl line to Beam Suntory for a whopping $100 million (via Forbes). She then reportedly made a staggering $55 million in 2011, landing her on that year's issue of Forbes Celebrity 100. In 2016, she was named the sixth highest-paid reality TV star.


However, despite her legacy, Frankel expressed a desire to move on from the massive Skinnygirl empire in 2018. According to People, she cited stress and burnout with her ultra-busy schedule. "We need to let some air out of the tires," she told the outlet. "I need some support and help. It's all been too much. I can't breathe." 

With multiple offers on the table, Frankel remained undecided as she weighed her options, searching for a contract that aligned with Skinnygirl's vision as a company. "One thing that I've really done in my business is I've made the right moves," she stated. "As great as that is, you get a little protective. So this would be, I'm sitting at the chess board and I just don't know what pieces to move around. But I'm telling you, I'm moving pieces around."


She is an active philanthropist

Despite her self-made fortune, Bethenny Frankel has been shown to have a giving side. She launched her disaster relief initiative B Strong in 2017 in response to the devastating Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico (via The Cut). She raised $300,000 for the organization before traveling to Puerto Rico, helping to supply thousands of dollars worth of food and medical supplies to the affected communities.


However, her generous spirit didn't stop there. In 2022, Frankel raised a staggering $25 million for B Strong after Russia invaded Ukraine. According to the New York Post, a large portion of the funds went to relocating refugees, while the remainder was distributed to Ukraine itself. "Thousands of people in lodging and you already knew that we partnered with travel companies for trains and planes, so it's planes, trains, lodging, food, and clothing for refugees and aid going in," she said on her Instagram story in March 2022.

Bethenny Frankel has written multiple books

Bethenny Frankel has made many successful attempts to spread her knowledge of health and entrepreneurship to the public. Having a way with words, she has written many books related to dieting, self-help, and business. According to Forbes, her published works "Naturally Thin," "The Skinnygirl Dish," and "A Place Of Yes" were bestsellers. These books were intended to help women turn their lives around by reconsidering their dieting and personal habits (via Publishers Weekly).


Her most recent work, titled "Business Is Personal," was released in May 2022. The partially autobiographical book chronicles Frankel's journey to establish her name with her companies. She also offers advice to women in a male-dominated industry, while motivating and empowering readers to follow their ambitions. "If you are thinking first about what's not going to happen for you and what you can't get done, [you're] the opposite of the little train that could," she told CNN.

She's had a rocky love life

Despite her prosperous career, Bethenny Frankel's romantic life has been less than ideal in many cases. Her first husband was pharmaceutical sales rep Jason Hoppy (via People). Two years after getting hitched in 2010, the pair began a messy eight-year-long divorce process that was not officially finalized until 2021. Intimate details of their tumultuous relationship and eventual separation were documented in "Bethenny Ever After," including Hoppy's refusal to move out of their apartment. "The last two years have been the most difficult in my life by far," Frankel told The New Yorker in 2015.


In 2018, Frankel faced tragedy when her fiance Dennis Shields passed away of a suspected overdose (via People). The untimely death was unsurprisingly a source of immense emotional pain for Frankel, who had been dating him for two years. However, Frankel managed to recover and find love again with businessman Paul Bernon. They had an on-again, off-again relationship since 2018, and then Bernon proposed to Frankel in 2021. "We're partners in basically everything," Frankel told Andy Cohen in 2022 while describing the nature of their relationship.

Bethenny Frankel is a proud mother

Bethenny Frankel's fame and mega-corporate empires aren't her only major accomplishments. When it comes to her personal life, in 2010 she gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Bryn, with her first husband Jason Hoppy (via People). The labor and C-section delivery were heavily documented on "Bethenny Ever After."


According to Us Weekly, Bryn's privacy was a major reason that Frankel decided to cease production of "Bethenny Ever After" in 2012. Similarly, she cited a desire to focus on her daughter as a primary cause for departing "The Real Housewives of New York City" for good, per Variety.

Frankel was awarded primary residential custody of her daughter in December 2021 amid divorce proceedings, according to Us Weekly. "Bryn knows I love her," Hoppy said in a statement regarding his decision to distance himself from the situation. Bryn has reportedly coped well with the circumstances.

As of 2022, Frankel and Bryn seem to have a close bond. Bryn frequently makes appearances on Frankel's TikTok account, and the proud mom disclosed to Andy Cohen that her daughter does well in school and is an artist.