Millions of women tune in each week to find out who gets closer to winning "America's Next Top Model" but, ironically enough, none of the winners have actually become America's next top model, as the title would suggest.
"American girls haven't been America's next top model," Banks said. "We are fighting against a time when a supermodel is not a supermodel anymore. Back in the day, as I said, you could name 10 supermodels, 20. Can you name five now? Can you really?
"It's about the marketplace," she said. "I'm creating careers for these girls. And it's sad that the title of the show makes you go, 'Oh, they are not America's next top model -- but who [the] hell is? Who the hell is right now?
"A lot of my girls are very successful around the world," she said. "The world is bigger than American Elle, American Vogue, Glamour magazine. So there are some very successful girls globally."
Whatever the prize, interest in the show remains intense. A recent call for auditions in New York City for models under 5 feet 7 turned into a melee when thousands of hopefuls showed up and space ran out. Police barricades were tossed aside and punches were thrown.
The show's audience keeps growing, too -- despite a revolving door of judges.
The abrupt departure from "Top Model" of judges such as Paulina Porizkova and Janice Dickenson has been accompanied by rumors that Banks is hard to work with. Is she a diva?
"I wish I was more of a diva," Banks said. "I wish was harder, I wish I didn't care so much about being the nice girl all the time. Because a lot of the time people can take kindness for weakness ... so I wish I had a little bit more 'oomph' in me."
After her departure, Porizkova said Banks lacked respect for the co-judges. Dickenson called Banks self-righteous. Why would they say so?
"I don't know," Banks said. "Why do you think?"
The former model showed that she knows how to hold her tongue, too. "Nightline" asked her about rumors of a relationship with a certain financier.
"Oprah told me don't talk about your man unless you want the whole world in your business," Banks said. "I said OK."
In any case she is skeptical about the institution of marriage, she said.
"I don't have that 'Oh my god, I gotta get married!' thing," Banks said. "If it happens, it happens, but it's never been like 'Oooo, I need to do that!' I don't know, it's a little difficult for me to understand, actually, when women really want to get married. ... I think it's because I'm a product of divorce, my parents divorced, so I don't understand that whole married thing when 70 percent of marriages fail and 50 percent of second marriages fail."
But behind the scenes and away from the drama of reality TV, Banks is surprisingly grounded -- a family girl who admitted she wants a family of her own.
"Sooner than later, definitely," she said, talking about children. "I have a lot of success and make a good living, but after a while you start going why? ... I need to be able to share it with a family, and go to Toys R Us and buy a lot of toys for my child, you know what I'm saying? Like what is the point?"
In her dressing room, Banks proudly points out cost-effective design touches.