The Simple Life stars' spat "just turned into a much bigger thing than it is," says Richie

Nicole Richie, though ostensibly on Friday’s Today show to promote her new novel The Truth About Diamonds, could not avoid the topic of her former best friend, Paris Hilton, saying she would not speak to the hotel heiress should their paths ever cross.

Asked by host Katie Couric about what went wrong among the onetime pals, Richie simply said, “We just grew apart.”

So, is there a feud between them? Not really, said Richie, though the spat “just turned into a much bigger thing than it is. It’s just not part of my life.”

And yet, should she and Hilton happen to run into each other – “at the mall or someplace,” Couric inquired – they would not speak to each other, Richie said flatly.

As for the stories that Hilton was jockeying to replace Richie on their FOX reality show, The Simple Life, with her pal Kimberly Stewart, “That was never going to happen,” according to Richie.

She also soundly denied that, although she’s lost an indeterminate amount of weight – “I don’t know (how much), because I don’t own a scale” – she has an eating disorder.

Later on Friday, on Live! With Regis and Kelly, Richie said the novel’s character Simone was a composite, not based on Hilton as suggested by the show s guest host, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.