In “The Big Shot,” premiering April 29 on HBO Max, millennial strivers attempt to become Frankel’s vice president of operations at Skinnygirl. Nominally a business competition show, it dispenses with most hallmarks of the genre — imagine “The Apprentice” with 100 percent more entropy.
“I can let two people go. Hire everybody. Fire everybody,” Frankel says in the first episode. “I can do whatever I want.”
On a recent afternoon, Frankel arrived at a Soho loft where some of the show was shot — lipped, lashed, bronzed, glamorous even through the Zoom screen. During an hourlong interview, she discussed entrepreneurship, her Martha Stewart beef and how to make reality TV more real. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
How did you end up on “The Apprentice” in the first place?
I’d never watched a ton of television, but I said, “I could get on ‘The Apprentice.’” I said to my partner, “Go buy the least expensive video camera you can find and just videotape me selling cookies.” I got called, which was the craziest thing of my life, and I went to Bloomingdale’s and used my credit card to buy a Moschino red jacket. I went to this hotel, they interviewed me. I didn’t make it. But I’ve always been a connector, like, follow through, send a card, send a gift. Connect. So I kept in touch with the same producers and casting directors without looking too desperate. And they said, “OK, now it’s the Martha Stewart ‘Apprentice,’ here’s your chance.” I wanted it more than anything in the world. I didn’t want the fame per se. I wanted the job.
You made it to the finale, then lost. Do you feel like you were robbed?
I ran into Martha Stewart shortly after. I was wearing a really sexy dress. Intentionally. She was standing next to Jon Bon Jovi. And she said to him: “This is Bethenny, she was just on my show. And she’s mad at me because she didn’t win.” And I said: “Martha, I’m not mad at you. You’re like an ex-boyfriend that I hate but I’m still in love with.”