On Wednesday’s episode of his SiriusXM radio show, Andy Cohen Live, the Watch What Happens Live host reacted to Frankel’s departure from the franchise, which she announced back in August.
Though viewers have expressed their sadness that Frankel won’t be around for season 12, Cohen, 51, had more positive feelings — noting that Frankel, who was a founding member of RHONY when it began in 2008, had previously left the show after season 3 and returned in season 7.
“My overwhelming feeling about Bethenny leaving RHONY, and I told her this six weeks ago were she going to leave, that I am so grateful that she came back,” Cohen explained.
“She already left is what we need to remember,” he said. “We were so lucky to have these last seasons with her on it. And it was just so fun to have her back and she brought so much to the show that I just am living in the gratitude of her second return.”
It was that return that had Cohen guessing that Frankel will be back again.
“I will hopefully live in the gratitude of her third return, because we are much like the mob — you can’t get out,” he said. “I do hope and think that she will come back sometime.”
“Who knows? She now, she’s so still a part of everything that’s still going on that you almost could see her dropping in and it’s like, ‘Oh my god. Okay! Bethenny’s at a party! Bethenny’s on this trip!’ You never know,” Cohen said. “I look forward to her in any capacity on the show and I’m just grateful that she was back.”
A source previously told PEOPLE that Frankel’s choice to leave RHONY was a “sudden decision” that has left her fellow New York City Housewives and producers in the weeds.
“Filming began hours after the announcement came out and it really threw everyone for a loop,” the source said about Frankel’s surprising exit. “Usually before a season, these women have some idea what the next few months will look like based on the dynamics of the group, but this has left everyone a bit lost.”
Housewife Ramona Singer also told PEOPLE that Frankel “did not inform her costars” in advance that she was going — though the source said she “reached out to many of her former costars” the next night and that “the conversations between her and the cast were nice and supportive.”
“She explained it was a very sudden decision,” the source said. “Bethenny didn’t even consult [boyfriend Paul Bernon] about it. She really listens to her heart and said she felt like it was the right time to take a leap and jump into this next adventure.”
As to how Frankel is handling her decision, the source said “she’s feeling very emotional about it, but knows that you can only win at life when you swing big.”
She’s also shared many personal messages on social media about leaving RHONY, thanking her fans for their support.
None of her postings have addressed reports that she left the hit reality show over money.
Cohen wouldn’t touch on those reports either on his radio show, Wednesday. “I’m not [commenting],” he said when asked about them by his co-host, John Hill. “I’m just going to leave it in my gratitude.”
As for potential fillers for Frankel’s spot, a source told PEOPLE that no one official has been given that spot by Bravo but that 37-year-old Leah McSweeney — founder and CEO of Married to the Mob, a female fashion line — has been filming for a potential role.
Whether or not she is cast full-time, Cohen made it clear on Radio Andy that Frankel could never be replaced.
“Everyone is like, ‘Who are you going to get to replace Bethenny?’ You don’t replace people,” Cohen said. “The show keeps going basically, that’s what we’ve learned. In the galaxy of shows, the world continues to turn.”
The Real Housewives of New York City is expected to return to Bravo next spring. Andy Cohen Live airs Wednesdays on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy (Ch. 102).