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Special K

The Kardashian family’s reality-TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians has long been seen as brainless late-night viewing - like The Osbournes only with prettier women, less insanity and more shopping.

Yet a Hollywood Reporter article has made it harder to be snobby about Kourtney, Kim and Khloe and their drama-filled lives, hissy fits, revealing clothes and the impression that they will tell you anything about their love/sex lives to get attention.

The impression of the sisters selling their intimate secrets for public consumption and to promote their fashion boutiques has been corrected by the magazine’s recent cover story, ‘Inside Kardashian Inc’, about the family’s mega millions. We now know the trio are probably just as clever as they appear desperate in their TV series, which first aired on E! in October 2007.

It turns out that when it comes to keeping up with the Kardashians, a staggering number of Hollywood’s most bankable superstars are struggling to do just that. The LA-based family isn’t selling its life story at a bargain-basement price. Instead, the Kardashians earned €48m in 2010, which is more money than Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, and Sandra Bullock combined!

Raking in this surprising amount from their TV show and three Dash clothing stores makes no sense . . . until, that is, you add in endorsements, paid public appearances and fragrance lines, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The reality shows are a 30-minute commercial,” Khloe revealed in an interview when commenting on how the series regularly features her and her sisters’ swimwear line, diet pills and brand endorsements.

Kim Kardashian, who has appeared in a Playboy spread, reportedly charges up to €18,000 to mention a brand in one of her Twitter posts. (She has 6,685,673 followers.)

She also charges anywhere from €75,000 to €180,000 for an event appearance fee. She recently credited her ex-boyfriend and footballer Reggie Bush for helping her overcome her sex-tape shame after X-rated footage of her with another former boyfriend, rapper Ray J, was made public in 2007.

So popular is the reality show that there have been two spin-off series, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, and Kourtney and Kim Take New York. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is hardly the cultural highlight of anyone’s week — a recent episode in which Kim was filmed listening to her sister Kourtney and her boyfriend Scott Disick having sex was cringeworthy — yet, it’s hard not to be curious about who is the brains behind the Kardashian family business.

Ambition

Yet the business manager behind the Kardashian sisters is none other than their mother, Kris Jenner. Kris is mother to Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and their brother Robert, from her marriage to the late Robert Kardashian, an American attorney who was best-known for defending OJ Simpson.

She is currently married to Bruce Jenner, a former American athlete-turned motivational speaker and TV personality. The couple has two daughters, Kendall and Kylie, who have also appeared in the reality series. Kris is a former airline stewardess and the ambitious matriarch has said of her family’s success with Keeping Up with the Kardashians: “We’re just this big family with a lot of drama and a lot of issues, and there’s someone here for everyone to relate to.”

Meanwhile, her daughter Khloe has said of her mother’s management prowess, “My mother has just always been this ‘Let's make water into wine’ person. She knows how to take one small talent and grow it into something huge.”

Yet, if Kris is putting millions into her daughters’ pockets, not everyone is comfortable with how she markets her daughters. When the book Kardashian Konfidential by Kim, Kourtney and Khloe hit the New York Times bestsellers list last year, mum and manager Kris commented on her daughters' various shenanigans and spoke about how daughter Khloe had lost her virginity at age 14 to a guy who was 18.

In another controversial move, she backed her daughter Kendall’s racy bikini photo shoot when she was aged 15 and under contract to Wilhelmina models.

So is it a case of mum knows best, or simply that mum knows how to make millions?