Bethenny Frankel, star of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City,” knows a thing or two about getting what she wants. She’s been a guest investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” negotiating equity deals with a number of budding brands, and often bargains when flipping multi-million dollar estates on her Bravo show “Bethenny & Fredrik.”
The self-made star even negotiated her way to a standout contract for season one of “Housewives,” which aired in 2008.
“I’m a good negotiator,” Frankel tells CNBC Make It.
“In the first season of ‘Housewives,’ I made $7,250 for the entire season, but was the only person to put in my contract [that] anything I ever do, I own.
“And that ended up being a pretty good thing when it came to Skinnygirl,” she adds.
The contract Frankel was initially presented with included a clause stating that Bravo would receive a percentage of any business Frankel promoted on the show, reported The New Yorker. The reality star would not sign it.
It was a smart and lucrative move. Frankel used her starring role in “Housewives” to plug her burgeoning Skinnygirl brand.
In March 2011, the star sold Skinnygirl Cocktails (a line of diet cocktail mixers), reportedly for over $100 million. Frankel still owns the rest of her successful Skinnygirl empire, which includes products ranging from candy to popcorn and a jeans line launching in August. In 2016, the entrepreneur landed a spot on Forbes’ list of America’s highest-paid reality stars.
“There’s got to be some integrity in negotiating”
As for her negotiating technique, Frankel has a few tips.
First, be strategic.
“I don’t come in at some crazy number, and then later they find out that I would have taken much less or I meant something different,” Frankel tells CNBC Make It. “And the reason for that is that they later might be negotiating with you again, and they already know your poker face.”
Second, “There’s got to be some integrity in negotiating,” says Frankel.
“If I’m negotiating and something isn’t going well, I call the person,” Frankel says. “I’m very fair. And I do think it’s true that both people should be uncomfortable and happy at the same time.”
But negotiating is more than just getting what you want in business.
“We’re always negotiating,” Frankel says. “[W]e’re always communicating about what we want, how to make someone else happy and how to make ourselves happy.”