Bethenny Frankel: 'Most people don't work hard'

Love her or hate her, Bethenny Frankel knows how to build a successful brand.

“I have amazing ideas and I execute and I’m honest and I’m straightforward and I’m cutthroat… I’m just not the one who’s going to be complaining about ‘woe is me,’” Frankel said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit, when asked about the challenges of being a female entrepreneur.

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Bethenny Frankel, with her rescue pups Biggy and Smallz, celebrated Adopt a Shelter Dog Month with Scruff-a-Luvs Real Rescue and ASPCA. (Credit: Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Bethenny Frankel attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Bethenny Frankel arrives at the Walt Disney Television Emmy Party on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Bethenny Frankel attends the Amazon Prime Video Post Emmy Awards Party 2019 on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Bethenny Frankel attends the Creative Coalition's 2019 Television Humanitarian Awards Gala at Ocean Prime on September 21, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Bethenny Frankel attends The Hollywood Reporter And SAG-AFTRA Celebrate Emmy Award Contenders At Annual Nominees Night on September 20, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Bethenny Frankel -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 21: Bethenny Frankel attends the one year anniversary celebration of The Curated NYC at the Christian Siriano The Curated NYC boutique on May 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY -- "Reunion" -- Pictured: (l-r) Dorinda Medley, Bethenny Frankel -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Bethenny Frankel celebrates the grand opening of the GODIVA Café in NYC on April 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Godiva Chocolatier)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Bethenny Frankel celebrates the grand opening of the GODIVA Café in NYC on April 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Godiva Chocolatier)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Bethenny Frankel -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05: Bethenny Frankel is seen at Cipriani 42nd Street for the Variety's Power of Women on April 5, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 05: Bethenny Frankel attends Variety's Power Of Women: New York at Cipriani Midtown on April 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage,)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Bethenny Frankel speaks onstage during day one of the 2019 Nazarian Institute on January 26, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Nazarian Institute)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Bethenny Frankel attends day one of the 2019 Nazarian Institute on January 26, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Nazarian Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Bethenny Frankel attends as FAO Schwarz opens its flagship store at 30 Rockfeller Plaza on November 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for FAO Schwarz)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Bethenny Frankel is seen on November 09, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 08: Bethenny Frankelattends the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 08, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/2018 Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) 2018 Ian McKellen Award Recipient Bethenny Frankel poses with her award at the 2018 Only Make Believe Gala at The Schoenfeld Theatre on November 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Bethenny Frankel attends the 2018 Only Make Believe Gala at The Schoenfeld Theatre on November 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Bethenny Frankel seen on the streets of Manhattan on October 26, 2018 in New York, NY. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
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Female entrepreneurs can distinguish themselves from others simply by working harder, according to Frankel. “Most people don’t work hard … Most people move the papers around the desk metaphorically and think they’re working hard,” she said. “It’s about working hard.”

The founder and CEO of the Skinnygirl Lifestyle brand shot to reality TV fame on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City,” but Frankel shocked fans in August when she announced she was leaving the TV franchise to start her “next chapter.”

“I went with my gut to leave,” she said at the All Markets Summit on Thursday.

For the 48-year-old entrepreneur, philanthropist and author, that next chapter was signing a multi-year deal with MGM Television and Mark Burnett to develop TV projects. Frankel and Burnett are no strangers. She’s appeared in Burnett’s “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” in 2005 and as an investor on “Shark Tank.”

Frankel said she met with 10 networks and streaming providers and has sold two shows.

“Most of the shows are around women, business — some are around food. But mostly entrepreneurs and women. But not in a touchy feeling way but in sort of a hardcore way, if that makes any sense,” Frankel said of the shows, noting that the new TV projects will be unscripted.

Going with your ‘gut’

Frankel said she’s always relied on her gut instincts when it comes to making business decisions. “I wing it as I go,” she said.

She used those basic instincts when she sold her low-fat liquor company, Skinnygirl Cocktails, to Beam Global in 2011 for a reported $100 million dollars — but kept the licensing rights to the name.

That shrewd business decision has served her well. Frankel’s Skinnygirl empire has since expanded to include salty snacks (think Skinny Popcorn), non-alcoholic beverages, salad dressing, coffee, skincare, haircare, candles and most recently clothing. Her line of Skinnygirl jeans sold out the day it debuted on HSN. Frankel said she would be open to selling the business.

Frankel said “The Real Housewives” used to be a platform for Skinnygirl but it was also a “risky” one. When she left the show for three years, Frankel said a number of business opportunities opened up for her, including being a guest shark on “Shark Tank.” “I had to push my way through and get on ‘Shark Tank’ despite ‘Housewives,’” she said.

She shot down any idea of returning to “Housewives” again saying, “That audience I already know. I want to connect with a new audience.”

As a woman in the male-dominated liquor industry, Frankel said she “has always been about female empowerment. I don’t see gender, race.” As a guest shark on “Shark Tank,” Frankel said a business must have amazing ideas and be able to execute in order to have her jump on board.

Humble beginnings

The self-made entrepreneur went on to become the only “Housewives” star to make the Forbes list of top-earning reality stars. It’s a far cry from her humble beginnings in Queens, New York, where Frankel describes her childhood as “difficult,” growing up with a mother who was “always drinking.”

“I don’t understand money,” she said, adding that there were just a lot of highs and lows growing up. “I grew up in a gambling household.”

Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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