Bethenny Frankel: 'I'm Going Through a Brutal, Brutal Time'

Reality TV star talks about growing empire, letting cameras into her life.

ByABC News
August 6, 2013, 1:26 PM

Aug. 12, 2013— -- Bethenny Frankel said she is still grappling with the aftermath of her painful divorce and resulting custody battle over her and her ex-husband's daughter, Bryn.

"I'm going through a brutal, brutal time," Frankel, 42, told "Nightline." "It really, really is. I mean, there's no other way to slice it."

In an interview with "Nightline," the former "Real Housewives of New York" star turned savvy entrepreneur talked about her ever-expanding empire and opened up about letting cameras capture very personal moments in her life.

After nearly three years of marriage, Frankel and her now ex-husband, businessman Jason Hoppy, called it quits. Their nasty squabble dissolved into a custody battle over the couple's 3-year-old daughter.

"I felt like I disappointed people, because I felt like I was this role model, that represented the fairy tale," Frankel said. "I'm definitely bruised."

The monstrous success of Bravo's "Real Housewives" series led to spinoffs that put Frankel's life on full display. "Bethenny Getting Married" documented her relationship and subsequent marriage to Hoppy, and "Bethenny Ever After" followed the birth of their daughter.

The reality series' cameras captured Frankel and Hoppy's relationship as it came together, and then unraveled, something Frankel said she doesn't regret.

"I don't regret letting the cameras roll at all," Frankel said. "I could have skated by. I could have stayed on the show and been like, 'Oh, everything's perfect with us. Everything's great.' It made me feel dirty for people to think that I had this perfect relationship and this perfect life."

But despite the low points, or maybe because of it, Frankel's career is reaching new heights.

Her 100-calorie, ready-to-serve Skinnygirl margarita turned the housewife into a household name. Two years ago, Frankel sold Skinnygirl Cocktails to Jim Beam for an estimated $100 million.

"This has kind of exploded now because women are interested in lower calories obviously, but they still want a drink," Frankel said. "This broke the code. It really did. It's one of the fastest growing liquor brands in the whole world."

But cocktails are just one slice of her Skinnygirl brand, which now includes workout DVDs, nutrition bars and shapewear. In addition, Frankel, already a four-time New York Times bestseller, is about to release her fifth book, "Skinnygirl Solutions," a guide to practical and healthy living.

"It's solutions to make women's everyday lives a little easier, a little more balanced," she said. "Just from anything that, organization, just on a micro-level, when you walk into your bathroom cabinet and you look at that drawer with all the brushes and the nonsense, just how to just organize that one moment of your life."

She is also set to launch her own nationally-syndicated daytime talk show, "Bethenny," on Sept. 9 -- a project backed by Ellen DeGeneres. True to her TMI form, Frankel said nothing on her show will be off-limits.

"I don't want to go on there and make jokes about laser hair removal," she said. "It's not, I mean it is sort of funny, but it's not. I did not know. I literally polled my whole office and said, 'Okay. Who's bald eagle and who's landing strip?' I had no idea that I was not, you know -- I thought I was cool. What my friends and I talk about when we go to get drinks."

Even though it has been a rough ride for Frankel, she still seems to find something in life worthy of a toast, and she knows how to take the edge off.

"I would imagine eventually, sex would be a nice release, but you know, who knows," she said. "If I'm exercising or doing yoga it'll take the edge off on some level. And then I like to have a Skinnygirl cocktail. I'm not going to lie. Honestly. It's mommy juice."