Credit: Katy Winn/Getty

She battled with Bethenny Frankel and got beat up in the blogs, but Kelly Bensimon, the season’s new girl on The Real Housewives of New York City, says she’d do it again — and hopes to come back for another season.

“It was a really, really fun process,” she told PEOPLE during a recent phone interview. “For next season, I want to see the real Kelly.” So far, “another season of New York is not locked for anybody yet,” she explains, but “I would love to be a part of the brand.”

Bensimon says joining the already-established cast in the show’s second season was like diving into a “shark tank,” and blames her nerves for causing her to act like someone she’s not. “I was so guarded, I came across as not being me,” she said. “Everyone I know was like, ‘That’s not you! That’s the not the fun Kelly who’s always on Kelly time!’ I didn’t know these women. I was treading in murky waters and I didn’t know how to navigate.”

Bensimon insists her cat fight with Bethenny was out of character. “I’ve never had an exchange like that with anyone in my entire life,” she says. “I was really thrown off.”

Still, she believes that Bethenny knew exactly what she was doing. “She got a ton of airtime and got a ton of press,” Bensimon says. “Why would she fight with the new girl if she didn’t want air time and press?”

Up next, all six ladies — including Jill Zarin, LuAnn de Lesseps, Alex McCord and Ramona Singer — will face off on Bravo’s two-part Reunion: Watch What Happens special, airing Tuesday (10 p.m. ET) and Thursday (9 p.m. ET).

“There are tears,” Bensimon says of the emotional meeting. But the reunion will also offer viewers a first glimpse of the real Kelly, she says. “At the reunion show, I wasn’t scared anymore. I wasn’t scared of the filming process. I’d had time to synthesize what had happened, and what was important and what wasn’t. I wanted the women to know that we are incredibly similar, and incredibly different.”

Since filming ended, Bensimon hasn’t spent much time with any of the New York Housewives — “We don’t run in the same social circles,” she says — but she doesn’t harbor any ill will towards any of them, including Bethenny.

“I’m the first person to say Bethenny’s a great girl,” says Bensimon. “To be her age in New York and single is not easy. But she’s doing a great job enjoying her life.”

But Bensimon did spend some time visiting with two Real Housewives of Atlanta stars just last week, dining with NeNe Leakes and Lisa Wu Hartwell. “NeNe was saying, ‘Honey, I’m here and you’re here,'” mocking Kelly’s now infamous moment with Bethenny at the bar. “She was having fun with it!

“It’s not meant to be a personal affront,” she added of arguments between the cast of The Real Housewives. “It’s meant to be entertainment.” — Mark DagostinoKaty Winn/Getty