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While her former Housewives costars continue to bicker on Bravo, Bethenny Frankel continues her attempt at world domination by gracing the latest cover of Forbes magazine.

The issue is fitting for the Bethenny Ever After star as it lists the top 100 most powerful celebrities (Lady Gaga takes the #1 spot from Oprah this year). Bethenny comes in at #42 after earning an estimated $55 million from May 2010 to 2011.

Forbes states Bethenny “represents a new breed of media-savvy entrepreneurs, who see reality television not as an outlet to feed their narcissism, but as airtime to promote their products.” Bethenny admits, “What’s the point of being on TV if you don’t have something to sell?” Below are excerpts from Bethenny’s cover story -

How Much Did Bethenny Earn? – According to Forbes, Bethenny sold her Skinnygirl drink line to Fortune Brands’ Beam Global for $100 million and not the widely reported $120 mil. The deal features a multi-year payout. When you add in the sales from her expanding line of Skinnygirl products, sources close to Bethenny reveal she earned an estimated $55 million in the past 12 months (Bethenny refused to confirm the numbers). That amount is huge, especially in comparison to the estimated $700,000 she earned from Bravo for her reality show. Bethenny makes it clear this mega success is all still new to her. “Seriously,” she reveals, “it wasn’t until two years ago that I made more than my assistant.”

Growing Up Bethenny – Growing up on New York’s Long Island as the child of top-ranked horse trainer Bobby Frankel, her childhood was far from a fairytale. Bethenny grew up with multiple divorces, allegations of childhood neglect, 13 different schools, and two cross-country moves. “I had my first drink when I was 7 years old; I was betting at the track by 8,” she recalls. “My father never called me on my birthday. He never congratulated me or told me he was proud,” she says, tearing up. Bethenny would go on to attend NYU, graduating with a degree in communications and psychology.

Can Bethenny Crack a Billion? – Bethenny reveals her goal is to turn the Skinnygirl empire into a billion-dollar business. In addition to selling her Skinnygirl drink line, she also has a number of other “Skinnygirl” products in the works. And despite selling the drink line, Bethenny still retains the rights to use Skinnygirl for anything she wishes. “It would be great for Beam to sell Skinnygirl shot glasses as a complement to the cocktail,” she jokes. “But they can’t. Only I can.” New products in the works include a line of Skinnygirl nutritional supplements, with partner Matt Hesse, which has already seen wholesale orders topping $1 million in the first quarter of 2011. Her shapewear is also predicted to bring in $5 million this year (it makes its QVC debut in August). Also in the works — an online personal-training service, a fourth book and a skin-care line called Skinnygirl Face & Body. She is also contemplating soft drinks, sauces and a children’s clothing line.

“It’s a formula,” says Bethenny of the successful brands she launches with strategic partners. “They’re the expert, the formulator, manufacturer. I’m the marketer, the media person, the face–and we each know our roles.” You can read more on Bethenny’s cover story on Forbes.

Meanwhile, following her second season of BEA, Bethenny reveals she plans to lay low until filming on the third season begins in July. “I have really checked out of my own life a lot,” she told PEOPLE. “I’m laying low. I really hit the wall going 90 miles an hour.” She adds, “We’re starting filming in July for season 3, and I need the hiatus.”

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON BETHENNY’S FORBES ARTICLE? DO YOU THINK SHE CAN CRACK A BILLION?

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