Luann de Lesseps Says the 'RHONY' Cast Was 'Relieved' Over Bethenny Frankel's Exit

Luann de Lesseps said that Bethenny Frankel's exit "leaves breathing room for other women to shine and show their personalities"

Luann de Lesseps is getting candid about Bethenny Frankel‘s exit from Real Housewives of New York.

The 54-year-old reality star joined Jenny McCarthy on her SiriusXM show on Monday and opened up about how Frankel’s exit from the Bravo franchise affected the latest season of its New York installment, revealing that although she was initially “shocked,” she thinks that the series is “better than ever.”

When McCarthy asked de Lesseps what her initial reaction was upon hearing the news in August that Frankel would not be continuing on RHONY, she said she was both “surprised and not surprised.”

“I was shocked … I was, you know, surprised and not surprised in a way because I think that she is in a relationship that I don’t think she wants to bring around on the show,” de Lesseps said, referring to Frankel’s relationship with boyfriend Paul Bernon.

“Bethenny is, I always say, she’s a lot of fun, she can be really nasty … she’s very funny,” de Lesseps continued, saying that she did enjoy the “challenge” Frankel brought into the show’s dynamic. “Those are the people you kind of get up for in the morning ’cause they challenge you.”

“I just feel like that part I’ll kind of miss because it’s kind of — you know, it’s challenging,” she said. “And I found kind of fun in it … I’ll miss her, but at the same time when you’re around her it’s like walking on egg shells.”

Luann de Lesseps
Luann de Lesseps. Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

As for the rest of the cast, de Lesseps said that the other women were “relieved” after Frankel left — and that their group text thread “blew up” after the news broke because none of them knew it was coming (de Lesseps called announcing the news on Instagram a “helluva way to leave a show”).

“I think the whole cast is relieved in a way, and it also leaves breathing room for other women to shine and show their personalities,” de Lesseps said. “Because a lot was Bethenny coming in and kind of stealing the show.”

RELATED VIDEO: Luann de Lesseps Reveals She’s Completed Probation: ‘Humbled and Grateful for This Life Lesson’

“But guess what?” she added, calling the upcoming season “better than ever.” “She can’t steal our show. This season is amazing, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the new season.”

De Lesseps also teased Frankel’s replacement, saying that anyone joining the group would have to “have balls.”

“Our new housewife is really great,” she teased to McCarthy. “I can’t talk much about her except that she’s a great addition to the cast. She’s got backstory. She’s an interesting woman, she’s smart. She’s successful.”

A rep for Frankel did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Season 12 of The Real Housewives of New York City is expected to premiere next year.

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