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* is reporting that Bravo has offered NeNe Leakes $2.5 million to return next season, which would amount to a raise of $500,000.

“NeNe is always a ratings plus for the show,” an insider explained. “And the producers want to make sure the show stays strong. The reason it stays strong is NeNe, so they’re throwing money at her.”

A source told Radar that Bravo execs weren’t happing with the new casting this season, and want to ensure that Leakes continues to be a part of the show.

“Kim [Fields] was not good,” the insider insisted. “The show needed NeNe to make her interesting, and they know that.”

According to the source, NeNe is playing hard to get — to maximize her coin.

“NeNe always holds out for as much money as she can get,” the source told Radar.

“She will string the Bravo people along forever in order to cash in. She’s no dummy.”