Heather Dubrow has apologized

What does it take to win a season of The Real Housewives of Orange County ? According to fans of the show, it requires a rich vocabulary, enviable wealth and a zero-tolerance policy for bullshit — something Heather Dubrow certainly has.

As she returns to the series for Season 16, five years after her five-season run ended in 2016, Dubrow is ready to show off her stunning mansion (which she just sold for $55 million) and Her children’s journey in the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, she got caught up in the show's catty plot again the following season, but when someone tried to get her, she fought back.

For fans, these ovations sealed her season's crown. "A lot of people messaged me and said, 'You've won,'" Dubrow tells Bustle of the Season 17 reunion. "But I didn't feel that way at all when I walked in. I felt really bad about the whole thing."

Her RHOC comeback was panned by many critics, including some housewives. Tamra Judge and other cast members constantly criticized her "fancy pants" mannerisms and misinterpreted her harmless jokes.

"This is Heather Dubrow's apology tour," she said of Season 17.

Heather Dubrow talks with Tamra Judge on "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Kathy Durkin/Bravo

Throughout the season and 16 episodes, she apologized for everything from overusing her monogram to calling Taylor Armstrong "cute" in her first acting role. (This sparked a fight on Dubrow's own IMDb page.) She quickly grew tired of her cast members finding any reason to attack her, so in the finale, she let them do it. "You make the mistake of thinking I don't care," she told the judge.

Dubrow hopes to muster the same energy if she returns next season. "But I'm not a zero-giving girl," she said. "I actually care. Do I want to be more like that? Maybe, but I'm not. But I would say there is power in my faith."

Below, Dubrow answers our burning questions about regrets, petty squabbles, and who has the best house.

What is your most iconic moment on the show?

"She broke the bow off my cake and ate it."

Have you heard anything about Sarah? Did she break that bow?

I met her in a restaurant about two years ago and just said "Hi." You know, I'm nice to everyone unless someone hurts my child.

Combined with wasting a bunch of sushi from Nobu, is your event cursed with food?

One hundred percent. I should stop eating cake. Remember when Tamra was competing in a fitness competition and I made a donut cake and the girl delivering it tripped and it went everywhere? I can't - every cake is a disaster. I just had to stop.

Just take the championship.

I know.

In addition to your food disasters, fans love your fight with Taylor on IMDb.

Do you think I'm overreacting? The minute I got on the show, it was about my career. Alexis [Bellino] would say, "You're not an actor. Angelina Jolie is an actor, and then there's Malibu Country ..." It's always been like that. People don't realize how difficult it is to get a TV show in the first place, so it's something I hold dear.

What is the biggest regret of a housewife?

I mean, do we have two hours? I feel sorry for Tamra's bull. It's perceived as malicious; it's not. But she was hurt and it was horrible.

I regret having to deal with Shannon [Beador] during her first season on the show. I thought I was protecting my friendship with Tamra, but I was hurting myself. In a way, I was also trying to protect Shannon from knowing her family. It doesn't work. The whole season was just a season full of regrets.

Who do you think is the queen of Bravo?

I don't consider myself a Bravo queen. I was like a really low page or something.

I think it's cool that they gave Vicki [Gunvalson] the WifeTime Achievement Award. This network is truly built on housewives, and those OGs from each series are truly the queens. When you look at Vicki, Teresa [Giudice], NeNe [Leakes], Ramona [Singer], Kyle [Richards], all these girls were involved from the beginning, not knowing where it was going to go. It's amazing.

Which housewife has the best house besides yourself?

Lisa Vanderpump. I've been to her house and her style is really beautiful and her dining room is always beautiful. Kyle's house always looks beautiful.

Who has the worst house?

I would probably say the ugliest one was my rental in Emerald Bay while we were building the house we just sold. That's a bit lazy.

What's your favorite Bravo one-liner?

I love what I said to Lydia (McLaughlin) at a party. She kept asking me to apologize, and I kept apologizing and saying, "I said I was sorry. Do you want me to pop a vein?" I think Tamra's signature statement was, "That's my point!"

I use it as a GIF every day. Who do you think Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are in your cast?

Is Carrie on our show? I'm definitely more like Charlotte. I’ll give Tamra Samantha energy. Who will be Miranda? Maybe Emily [Simpson], or Jen [Pedranti]. Then Carrie is left with Gina (Kirschenheiter).

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity .