The straight-talking, business-savvy brunette audiences grew to know and love – and some castmates learned to loathe – on the first three seasons of The Real Housewives of New York City is officially back for the show's seventh season, PEOPLE has confirmed.
"I'm excited," Frankel, 43, tells PEOPLE of her decision to return to reality TV, which she denied earlier this month. "It feels like the first season when it was fresh and new and unknown."
Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson, Kristen Taekman, LuAnn de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan will be back, too, a rep for the show tells PEOPLE.
After leaving the show in 2010, Frankel initially stayed in reality TV, starring in Bethenny Getting Married followed by Bethenny Ever After for Bravo, which chronicled her marriage to and increasingly rocky relationship with Jason Hoppy. All the while, she was also focusing on her successful Skinnygirl beverage company. Earlier this year, her short-lived eponymous talk show ended – a venture she now says wasn't a good fit for her.
"I felt very constricted and very handled," Frankel says of daytime television. "Being on reality TV was very freeing for me."
She admits this form of entertainment "can be challenging, stressful and often toxic, just like life … but for me, personally, reality TV is a great vehicle."
As for who will be joining her on this season, Frankel says "the band is not back together," referencing her former costars, including Jill Zarin, Alex McCord, LuAnn de Lesseps and Ramona Singer. "There are some of us who will be together, but not everyone."
And this time around, Frankel says she's older, wiser and planning on doing things a little differently.
Starting out, "I had no money, no kid, no relationship. I was the perfect reality person."
But now, having daughter, Bryn, 4, and the fact that she's still recovering from her contentious divorce battle with Hoppy, she says, "The decisions I make affect other people ... some things about my personal life will remain private."