"I have nothing but love for her and I feel so lucky we were able to form this friendship," Carrie Ann Inaba tells PEOPLE

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January 09, 2019 08:30 AM

Any apprehension Carrie Ann Inaba may have felt about replacing Julie Chen on The Talk disappeared when she heard from Chen herself.

“Julie has been nothing but supportive,” Inaba tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “When she learned that I got the job, she sent me the most beautiful floral arrangement. She’s like, ‘I’m always in your corner.’ Woman to woman, that’s amazing.”

It was announced on Jan. 2 that the Dancing with the Stars judge, 51, would be replacing Chen, 49, who had been a co-host since the CBS show’s 2010 debut.

In an emotional video, Chen announced in September that she would be leaving The Talk, just days after her husband, former CBS CEO Les Moonves, announced his resignation following multiple allegations of sexual assault against him. (Moonves, 69, has called the allegations “untrue” and claimed any sexual encounters were consensual.)

CBS/Getty(2)

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“I was blown away by that video,” Inaba says. “That doesn’t happen often in this business when someone is so gracious in such a challenging time for herself. I have nothing but love for her and I feel so lucky we were able to form this friendship.”

Carrie Ann Inaba
John Russo

And now, Inaba is thrilled to focus on her new venture — and on the many more deep friendships she’ll make on the show.

  • For more from Inaba, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
Jake Chessum

“I feel very fortunate to sit at the table with five brilliant women,” she says of co-hosts Sheryl Underwood, Eve, Sara Gilbert and Sharon Osbourne. “They’re dynamic, they’re different and I love every one of them.”

The Talk airs weekdays at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

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