Bethenny Frankel Talks the Challenges of CEO Life Ahead of ‘The Big Shot’ Finale
Hiring a new employee can be a stressful business, and when the stakes are as high as they are for Bethenny Frankel, it’s not only nerve-wracking, it also makes for great television.
HBO Max’s The Big Shot with Bethenny has been tracking a unique interview process for a Vice President of Operations position on Frankel’s executive team. With the finale episode on the horizon, the former Real Housewives of New York star is opening up about the challenges of being a CEO and what she thinks of her remaining finalists. Plus, the philanthropist sheds a light on her B Strong initiative.
How would you sum up your search for a Vice President of Operations, and what you think of the remaining prospective employees vying for the job?
Bethenny Frankel: I thought they were really great people for different reasons. Some for corporate reasons, some for being more of a hustler, some for being young. There were a lot of different things going into my decision, but I do think that I made the right decision. And the whole process was challenging because I just didn’t want to let people go that have taken the time from their families during a pandemic when we were right in the eye of the storm.
They were away from their families for Thanksgiving and for three or four more weeks than expected because of riots and things getting shut down in the city. So it was like a very tenuous time. And then we started shooting on election day. So I was really grateful. It wasn’t lost on me, what they were going through not being home with their families during this particular time. So that was great of them.
It was, overall, a good experience because it was utilizing a business television opportunity to do something that’s more important than business or television to me, which is finding the right staff members because I have a pretty big infrastructure. I really have been needing this person for a long time and haven’t been able to stop and deal with it. So it’s just sort of doing two things at the same time.
The show highlights your SkinnyGirl brand as well as many of your other business ventures. One of the challenges shined a light on your ‘B Strong: Disaster Relief‘ initiative which has helped provide aid to those impacted by natural disasters. What has it meant to be able to use this platform to raise awareness for such an important cause?
I think it was great. It’s a big element of who I am. I treat it as a business, in that there has to be a return on the investment of my time. People have to be helped and we’ve saved lives. My business knowledge and experience helps me execute and do things that other people can’t get done and in a really remarkable period of time when it’s the most dire. So I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the show because it just showcases that it’s not easy to be a CEO. Hiring isn’t that easy. Managing people isn’t that easy. Knowing what you want in people isn’t that easy. And being successful is really not all that easy. I think that a lot of people think that you can Instagram filter your way into a successful life or business and it’s just not accurate.
You have a great group of women left in the running for the position. What was it that drew you to Milokssy, Krystin, and Wendy?
It’s funny because… I asked the talent producers who they liked and what they thought. And they didn’t think that Wendy jumped off the page in any way, and I just got a gut instinct from her immediately… When I saw Wendy, I just had a vibe on her. I don’t know. I thought she was strong and there was something under there. I got the sense that she was tough… and she had a grace under pressure, even when she was freaked out.
Krystin had enough of a flare, but she seemed corporate-ish, so that was attractive to me because she seemed like she could handle herself. She’s a mom. She just seemed strong and she didn’t get flustered that easily when I thought she would. So that’s a big part of the job too. And then Milokssy also had a corporate nature about her but is strong, can handle things, and is calm. Maybe not taking as many chances, but she’s calm and collected… It was funny because… I really didn’t know if any of these people could [do the job]. It looked grim to me. And it’s one of the first things I said when I got there that first day. So I just trusted the process and went through, and honestly, I really think that I got somebody who can actually do this job. So that was great.
That’s amazing. And you’ve really felt a connection with a lot of these candidates. You even gave a position to Correy despite the fact that he wasn’t a good fit for the big role you’re filling. Can you tease whether or not you’ll be hiring more than one person in the finale or would that be too much of a spoiler?
It would be too much of a spoiler, but it’s not beyond the realm. I could hire everybody. Right now, frankly, in my real life, I need many people. I could probably in my infrastructure hire four people right now without blinking. It’s just that you have to hire good people and it’s not easy to hire good people, so you have to really chip away at it and go one good person at a time.
That sounds stressful. Was this experience more stressful than your time on Real Housewives of New York City?
Yeah, I guess, because it’s my brand and because it’s really me. The stakes are high because I was leaving the Housewives and there was a pressure to that for a while, too, at certain points until you can figure out a way to fade into the background, which wasn’t that easy for me.
Would you ever consider doing this show again when it comes to hiring in the future?
I don’t know. I have to really think about it. Would I do it again? It really depends if it’s authentic and if I really need the person and if everything lines up properly. I don’t know if it’s my age, if it’s my relationship with my daughter, if it’s the pandemic, I am in a very live and let live [kind of mood]. I don’t have the hunger that I used to in certain ways. If it’s authentic about hiring someone that’s a big enough position to make it worthwhile and entertaining on television.
What can viewers expect from the finale?
It’s like the ultimate challenge where they’re really representing the brand and communicating something that’s happening in the future and also handling my 50th birthday and event planning. So it just involves more elements.
More juggling, it sounds like.
More juggling. More juggling and more authenticity.
The Big Shot with Bethenny, Season Finale, Thursday, May 20, HBO Max