March 13, 2012 02:15 PM

Fashion Star premieres Tuesday on NBC, and though it’s drawing obvious comparisons to Project Runway, Nicole Richie insists it’s different.

“This is something that’s never been done before,” she tells PEOPLE in the video above. “We’re talking about the epitome of immediate fashion.” Case in point: the clothes seen on the show’s runway will be available immediately online and in-store at H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. The stores’ buyers are the judges while Richie, Jessica Simpson and designer John Varvatos all serve as mentors to the 14 contestants.

So what’s it like for Varvatos – who’s designed for stars like Gerard Butler and Chace Crawford – to work with lovely ladies like Richie, Simpson and host Elle Macpherson? Richie answers that one with grin. “I kept having to slap the smile off his face every time Elle would walk on the stage,” she jokes.

Fashion Star airs Tuesdays (9:30 p.m. ET) on NBC.

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