Who is Bethenny Frankel and why is she getting her own talk show? Well, it’s been a long road for the self-made reality star cum entrenpreneur. Frankel’s new show (executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres) tests in six Fox affiliates this summer and, if all goes well, could broadcast nationally as soon as Fall 2013. The question is, who is Bethenny and why did she rise to the top out of all the reality TV show scrum?

Bethenny first caught our attention as a contestant on Martha Stewart’s season of NBC’s The Apprentice.  Bethenny, who has long struggled with weight and eating issues (she was thirty pounds heavier in her college days) had created a natural foods bakery and delivery service called Bethenny Bakes. She would later create a line of “Skinny Girl” cocktails: mixers, wines, and vodkas with minimal calories. She must have caught Bravo’s eye, because she was shortly cast in the NYC cycle of The Real Housewives. On RHONYC, Bethenny stood out for three reasons: she dated the baldest man in New York, she had a long standing catfight with resident mean girl Jill, and she continually busted her butt to promote her Bethenny Bakes and  Skinny Girl lines.

All the hard work paid off. In addition to her low-calorie creations, Bethenny has released four books, including Naturally Thin, The Skinny Girl Dish (a rip-off of Skinny Bitch in the Kitch), A Place of Yes (A New York Times bestseller), and a novel, Skinnydipping. I have read Naturally Thin and The Skinny Girl Dish, and the truth is Bethenny is a no-nonsense writer with practical advice and a good sense of humor to go along with it. Her popularity is rooted in her no-excuses attitude and her hard working ethic  She’s a refreshing change of pace from the other gold-digging, spray-tanning housewives.  To see a woman who is proudly successful, hardworking, takes no prisoners and yet is beautiful, sexy, and downright girly at times is a pleasure. She gives me hope that it’s possible to be a superwoman and just be a silly girl sometimes. She also exposes traditional gender roles by being the income earner of the family (husband Jason helps her with the business).

Bethenny’s connection to her viewers landed her two spinoff series on Bravo: Bethenny Getting Married, which followed her through the tail end of her pregnancy, her wedding, and the birth of her daughter, and Bethenny Ever After, a look into Bethenny’s new life with her husband Jason Hoppy and her daughter Byrn. Both series let you get a peek at the true Bethenny: she swears, she’s selfish, she’s abrasive, she’s honest, and yet she’s also sensitive, loving, loyal, and genuine. She’s someone who bares at least a part of her true personality for the camera. When Bethenny is pregnant, puffy, and an emotional mess, she doesn’t hold back. When Bethenny and Jason fight their way through a tropical vacation, you cringe with the realness of the emotion behind it. There’s a lot of good and bad to talk about with Bethenny, but it’s never boring.

Which is precisely why, given her struggles with weight, relationships, money, family (her father abandoned her family growing up) she makes for the perfect talk show host. Bethenny is not afraid to be controversial. She’s already got a following. She’s already taken the heat from the general public (including rumors of infidelity and a break up between her and her husband). If there’s anyone who can learn to succeed on the fly in the talk show circuit, I’ll put my bets on Bethenny.