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TV's baddest boss is back

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
Kelly Cutrone returns to TV with  "Kell on Earth," as well as a memoir/career advice tome, "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside."
Kelly Cutrone returns to TV with "Kell on Earth," as well as a memoir/career advice tome, "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside."
  • Kelly Cutrone has a new show and a new book out this week
  • Cutrone advises young women to go for their dreams and not worry about being nice
  • Cutrone predicts her "mean boss" reputation won't disappear with "Kell on Earth"

(CNN) -- Despite its moniker, reality television has rarely been intended to give you the real story. It deals in characters (sometimes caricatures) and is usually edited to prove a point.

In the case of Kelly Cutrone, however, what you see is what you get.

Never one for duplicity, the founder of New York-based public relations firm People's Revolution has an acerbic persona that never wavers whether she's in "The Hills" of Los Angeles, "The City" of New York or on the set of her new television show, "Kell on Earth."

"The thing about the show is that there's three tiers. The first is hello, shallow fashion world, we're killing ourselves over a skirt," Cutrone said. "The second is that there's this group of very eclectic people who get together and sit at this table for 12 to 14 hours a day; we're like a quilting circle."

And then, Cutrone added, there's the third layer, the layer where viewers get to see "a group of women who aren't sitting around talking about boys all day, who are making a lot of dough and figuring out how to make things happen."

How often do you even get to see that, Cutrone wonders? "Even in 'Sex and the City,' Carrie Bradshaw is obsessed with Mr. Big and Samantha had to get banged 20 times a week to get her character on the show," she said in her straight-shooting fashion.

That kind of brash honesty is also present in Cutrone's part-memoir, part-career manual, "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You" (Harper One). Cutrone doesn't dish on her reality show co-stars, but she does keep it real about why everything gets better after age 30. Two of the highlights from her list: You're finally making real money and the sex improves tenfold.

(The book title is Cutrone's office rule No. 1: If you can't hold back the tears, head for the exit.)

Between the book and the series on Bravo, airing Monday nights at 10 p.m., Cutrone fans and foes alike will certainly get to see a more well-rounded side of the boss -- who's also a single mother of one, deeply spiritual and fancies herself to be quite the matchmaker for her assistants.

The 40-something PR "power girl" talked with CNN about what it takes to make it in the fashion industry, how her book is kind of like the '70s horror bestseller "Flowers in the Attic" and why she thinks no woman should be interested in being nice.

CNN: Your book is a mix of personal anecdotes and professional advice. What prompted you to tell your story?

Cutrone: I had to write this book for young women. I wanted to write a book that was real, to show people that you can have it all, but maybe not in the order you were promised it in, and maybe not all at the same time.

I come from the middle of nowhere [near Syracuse, New York] and nobody in my world was prepared to help me with my life. It's not that they didn't want to; they just didn't know what to do. My mom couldn't tell me how to date three guys at the same time, or what do you when you're pregnant and alone and about to have a baby at 35.

But there were cool people along my way that would just pop up, like [New York public relations figure] Diane Brill, who was a New York legend at the time, and she said, "We need to take you to Pat Field's [clothing boutique] and get you your first push-up."

CNN: At one point in the book it looks like you've hit rock bottom, when you were living in Los Angeles, California, contemplating suicide. Did you ever think twice about sharing that?

Cutrone: We like to joke that this is the 17-year-old's version of "Flowers in the Attic." They're going to get their hands on the book, reading it on the beach next to their mothers, and their moms are going to be like, "Oh, that's the girl who works a lot, that's nice," and in the middle, it's like, "I was living in a motel. ..."

[In the book] I thought it was worthwhile. I don't think it glamorizes drug use at all. I have a daughter, and I hope she doesn't use drugs at all, and if she does, I hope we can have a dialogue.

My dad read the book, and I'm like, "I wrote this book for girls and gay men, not my father!" [But] he said that it just goes to show that he had no idea that I was in pain like that and that all these things were happening to me.

CNN: What do you hope your audience will take away from it?

Cutrone: I want them to see that if they're a dreamer, there's a reason why they're a dreamer, they should love themselves for that and figure out what their dream is and go for it.

And if you're around people who are like, 'that's not real,' you should look at them like they are a partner in a crime against you and get away from that. If you're the most happening person at the party, it's time to go. Hang with the winners.

CNN: You emphasize in both your book and "Kell on Earth" that the fashion industry isn't like playing a game of dress up with Barbie dolls -- it's a business.

Cutrone: A lot of people come into People's Revolution with an idea of what it means to work in the fashion business, but this isn't a P.C. world; this isn't a nice place. I like to say that when you're in pursuit of beauty, there's a lot of ugliness that comes along.

This is not for the meek. It's not for people who want to be told they're great every 10 minutes; it's not for people who want to leave at 6:30 and go to a movie with their favorite new boyfriend. This is for the alpha chick with a hunger for travel and life, and a hunger for being the best woman they can be.

CNN: We had a question from an iReporter about how to not be so nice all the time. Can a "nice girl" turn into an alpha chick?

Cutrone: The first thing is that in order to become something, we have to make a lot of mistakes. I see girls come in here, and in their heart, they can sense intuitively that there's something about this that they want, and they don't have those killer perspectives yet.

My former assistant Stefanie Skinner, she's in that crystallization point where she's no longer my assistant and she's making some mistakes. You can see her on the show saying, "I'm running with the wolves."

Skinner is starting to get it, though. She started yelling at the other Stephanie, and she goes downstairs to talk to [my business partner] Robyn and she said, "Oh my God, I can't believe what just happened to me, I've become that person." But at the same time, she has that killer thing in her and she can see it.

Women need to stop playing games and stop trying to make themselves less. They need to make themselves more. We shouldn't have to apologize for being powerful.

CNN: You're painted as the scary boss on "The Hills" and "The City," with everyone on edge trying to figure out what you'll say next. Do you think that perception will change at all with "Kell on Earth"?

Cutrone: No. It'll get worse.