Paula Deen is getting a second chance.
The chef's new company, Paula Deen Ventures, has received an investment between $75 million and $100 million from Najafi Cos., The Wall Street Journal reports. Jahm Najafi, who owns the Book-of-the-Month Club and BMG Music Service, hopes his private-equity firm can help Deen broker new deals by retiring her current business model, which sells her likeness and expertise to others.
"Our investment allows the Paula Deen brand to expand their relationships and the partnerships that are already in place, and support those partnerships on a go-forward basis," Najafi explained.
Steven Nanula, chief executive of Paula Deen Ventures, revealed the company is in talks with TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners.
The Food Network, which fired Deen in June 2013, is not being considered. Paula Deen Ventures declined to name which companies it has contacted.
Deen, 67, was dropped by many of her sponsors in June 2013 after she admitted to using a racial slur in a videotaped court deposition. The Georgian later apologized and said she doesn't condone racism.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal via e-mail, Deen said she draws confidence from the "hundreds of thousands of folks who signed up on Facebook's 'We Support Paula Deen' page." According to the former TV personality, "Hundreds of thousands of my fans sent me messages of love and support."
"I hope one day that everyone can have the opportunity to know who I am, as my family, friends and fans do," Deen added.
Najafi is confident that Deen's comeback will be a mutually profitable endeavor. "The important thing to remember is that her fan base is rabid. Her Facebook fan base has more than doubled in the past year," he explained. "The Paula Deen brand is alive and well."