“You know, I think that they’re still trying to figure out what they’re doing exactly with it,” the Bravo alum tells ET, while promoting her new series, Peacock‘s The Traitors. “It’s obviously gotta be done pretty soon, ’cause I think filming starts at the end of this month, so I don’t know. I feel like there’s a few different things they could do. I feel like they might be bringing back LVP. I’m not sure.”
LVP would be Lisa Vanderpump, Brandi’s one-time bestie turned nemesis who exited RHOBH after season 9 in 2019. When Lisa Rinnaannounced her departure from the franchise after eight years last week, tabloid reports surfaced suggesting Brandi and LVP could both return to fill that Rinna-sized gap.
“I think I could handle Lisa [Vanderpump],” Brandi quips. “I think we have a lot of unfinished business for sure.”
Brandi says she used to mourn her friendship with Lisa Vanderpump, but has come to believe they never really had one. LVP was one of the first Housewives to weigh in on Rinna’s reality TV retirement, simply tweeting “Ding dong” (as in, “the witch is dead”) to her followers. Brandi replied (though didn’t tag the restaurateur) with, “The witch isn’t dead!! Apparently she is busy playing door bell ditch?.” Both Lisas were labeled pot-stirrers (among other, less-than-friendly terms) during their runs on the show.
“I actually like Lisa Rinna, and I felt like it was a low blow,” Brandi explains of her response to LVP’s tweet. “Obviously when somebody leaves the show, there’s a lot of emotions with it … but it’s still hard. I just don’t like kicking people when they’re down, it’s just not my jam.”
“I think [Rinna] will be back,” she adds. “I think she is probably taking a pause. … I feel like losing her mom and not having any time off to actually mourn that, I feel like she’s due for just like a breath. She was the best Housewife that she could be. Like, whatever she does, she puts her effort in a million percent, and I say kudos to her for that.”
Much like Rinna, LVP’s final season on the show came amid mourning. She lost both her brother and mother that year, a point of contention between her fans and the cast of RHOBH. LVP’s supporters are very vocal that the women did not give the British-born star any slack during such a difficult time; instead, years of unspoken tension came to an explosive head that ultimately forced her out of the group (by her own choice).
Time away, however, could prove to be a blessing. The Real Housewives of Orange County‘s Tamra Judge has said multiple times that her two seasons off that show renewed her energy and gave her a fresh perspective as she returned to film season 17, set to premiere later this year.
“You know what? It’s nice to have a break, because it is a very stressful show to do,” Brandi adds in agreement, but confesses the biggest lesson she’s learned about herself since her final full-time season in 2015 isn’t exactly about growth.
“I thought I could change who I was,” she shares. “[But] what is it, a tiger doesn’t change its stripes? ‘I’m not going to react, I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do that, I’m going to be so zen…’ I can’t change my number. People have it. They know what they’re doing, but at the same time, listen: I’m me. Take it or leave it.”
For what it’s worth, LVP’s been adamant since her exit that she has no interest in retrieving her diamond. Brandi, however, isn’t playing coy.
“I mean, who’s not going to catch a diamond?” she laughs. Fans thought a social media post over the holidays, Brandi clutching a giant, clear gemstone and proclaiming to “love” the gift was a hint she was signed to come back, but Brandi was just being Brandi.
“I did it on purpose,” she cracks. It fits in with the persona she cultivated during her time on Housewives, and the dozen other reality shows she’s done since.
“I don’t think I’m a villain,” she explains. “I really think that I tell the truth and a lot of people don’t want to share. They deflect so they don’t have to share their truth, and when I speak the truth, it upsets them because they can’t handle the truth, and then they react and then it looks like I’m stirring the pot when I’m just speaking the truth. That’s how I look at it.”
Rinna’s not the only one departing RHOBH after season 12, though. Earlier this week, Diana Jenkins confirmed she’s leaving, too, making her a member of the “one and done” club in the Housewives universe.
“Not gonna miss her,” Brandi blurts out. “I’m sure she’s a lovely person, I’ve never met her. For me, she just didn’t bring too much to it. … You don’t get to pick and choose when you show up, or if you’re on vacation, or if you wanna go to the reunion. That’s not how it works.”
While a return to the 90210 is still TBD, Brandi is headed back to the Housewives universe for another Ex-Wives Club installment of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, her second and the fourth season of the spinoff series overall. Bravo and Peacock announced the casting news just after Brandi sat down with ET, so she stayed mum when pressed on the possibility. She did, however, ask, “Who’s that?” when her then-rumored (later confirmed) castmate, Alex McCord, OG of The Real Housewives of New York City, was mentioned. Along with Alex, Brandi is headed to Morocco with fellow returning Ex-Wives stars Vicki Gunvalson, Phaedra Parks and Eva Marcille, plus newcomers Gretchen Rossi, Camille Grammer and Caroline Manzo.
Someone soon to join the “Ex-Wives Club” (unofficially, though) is Jen Shah, the breakout star of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. She’s set to report for a 6.5-year prison sentence next month after pleading guilty on federal fraud charges.
“Are you that narcissistic that you think you’re not gonna get caught?” Brandi asks. “Is fame that important to you that you think you’re untouchable? Like, if I was doing something shady, you would never see me on TV. It’s just stupid, honestly. It’s just– it just shows you that like people are obsessed with fame to the point where they’re willing to go to jail for it.”
Brandi’s famously said over the years that women attracted to Housewives are women who have everything, but fame.
“That’s the one thing you can’t buy,” she explains, “but you shouldn’t be defrauding old people and the bank in order to get fame. Like, that’s where you might wanna draw the line. … It’s just shocking to me that people do this.”
Brandi is, however, OK with a little manipulation and deceit in the confines of a TV show, like her new competition series, The Traitors. The show lives somewhere between Big Brother and The Mole, with 20 contestants living and working together in a Scottish mansion, attempting to suss out three defectors — the titular traitors — who work together in secret, challenge after challenge, to spoil the group’s chances of taking home a $250,000 prize.
“When I did Big Brother, I was not prepared,” Brandi confesses. “I hadn’t seen the show, I was a last-minute replacement, and I really wanted to go into something completely prepared and prove that I am not just the chick that throws wine.”
“I think that people will see the smarter side of me, the more strategic side of me,” she adds. “My temper still comes out — I cannot help it! I really did try to bury it for the longest time, but this is a game where we are all competing for the prize. There can only be one winner.”
The cast is a mix of familiar faces and “civilians,” everyday people getting their first crack at reality TV. Brandi’s joined by fellow Bravo-lebs Kate Chastain, Reza Farahan and Kyle Cooke, as well as players from Big Brother, Survivor, Arie Luyendyk Jr. of The Bachelor, Olympian Ryan Lochte and more.
“There’s deceit, there’s backstabbing, there are alliances,” Brandi previews. “You think you know what’s happening, and then you find out, no, and it’s just like, you are on the edge of your seat the entire time!”
“It got very very dark,” she adds. “There was a psychologist on set — as there should be in these, especially when people are getting buried alive! I knew when they said, ‘Who is comfortable with small spaces?’ I was hiding. I am like, ‘I am not going. I am not! That won’t happen.’ And for a couple of the people they had to talk, they were out of it the whole day after that, ’cause it was intense.”
While she wasn’t game for everything The Traitors threw her way, Brandi is happy with herself for leaning into the experience/experiment.
“I want my boys to be proud of me,” she says, speaking of her sons, Mason, 19, and Jake, 15. She shares the two with ex-husband Eddie Cibrian, whom she sparked a little unexpected drama with just before Christmas, after confessing in an interview that she believed him to have had an affair with his one-time co-star, Piper Perabo.
“I believe what I said,” Brandi doubles down, despite Eddie releasing a statement denying her claims.
“This was untrue 19 years ago and it’s untrue now,” the actor told ET at the time. “Just because someone thinks something might be true does not make it true. This is all so unnecessary. Fun times at the Christmas table await.”
“Christmas was fun,” Brandi declares. “It didn’t come up on Christmas. I didn’t plan on talking about it during the interview, it just happened … and then it just spiraled out. It was never my plan to talk about that and I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.”
As for what the boys think of their mom’s lack of filter (after all, she does host her own podcast called Unfiltered), she says they’re used to it.
“They know they can’t control me,” she shares. “I’m in charge in that house, and they were there, they were upstairs [during that interview]. They were like, ‘Well … you didn’t really mean to talk about it, but you did. It’s not going to go over well with Dad.’ But they know me. I didn’t have malicious intent. It just it spiraled that way.”
“It did get me a Housewives job, and then spiral into 13 other reality shows that I’ve done,” she notes. “Public divorce, that’s how Housewives found me and then, listen, I’m worldwide now like Kandi [Burruss]! I’m doing things in the U.K. and Australia, all over the place.”
All episodes of The Traitors debut on Thursday, Jan. 12, on Peacock.