Hoda Kotb Is Excited to Figure Out 'Magic Moments' With Jenna Bush Hager on 'Today' (Exclusive)

While she's sad about Kathie Lee Gifford's exit, the longtime host says she's looking forward to the future.

Hoda Kotb is looking forward to the future.

Kotb told ET on Monday that she's doing her best to keep her chin up and spirits held high as she prepares to say goodbye to longtime co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, and welcome new co-host Jenna Bush Hager.

"It's like being in a relationship with someone for 11 years, who you love, and saying, 'Well, you know, were not going to see each other nearly as often," Kotb shared. "That is a hard thing to do."

After sitting side by side sipping wine and interviewing guests together during the fourth hour of the Today show, Kotb and Gifford will soon be parting ways when Gifford steps down from the role on April 5.

The Today show host -- who is also currently celebrating the release of her latest children's book, You Are My Happy -- said that working with Gifford "changed my life immeasurably."

"Her absence will be felt throughout NBC in a way that is very profound, and she's left a mark that will be there forever," Kotb added. "Some people come and go… but people will never forget Kathie Lee."

However, the longtime host is also looking forward to working with her new co-host, and developing a whole different rapport as they grow together in front of the audience.

"Jenna is full of depth and wisdom and humor," Kotb marveled. "For a person who spent her life in front of [the world], she's so strangely down to earth."

"I'm so excited, not for just me but for everybody, to learn more and more about her," she added.

Going back to her dating analogy, Kotb explained why, when she's sitting alongside Bush Hager, the show is going to be a little different than in the past.

"Pretend like you were dating someone for 11 years and it ended amicably, and then all of a sudden you started dating someone else," she said. "You're not gonna go to the same restaurants or talk about the same things or you know you'll make it different, but I think you have to figure out what that is by being together."

"So I think, as we go through it together, we'll figure out where are magic moments are," she added.

One thing, however, that won't change will be the wine. Kotb said that morning drinking is definitely still going to be a standard for the show.

"The wine has to stay! I mean it's a party, it will always be a party," Kotb exclaimed. "I mean, things will change but the wine will stay."

The Today Show airs weekday mornings on NBC. Meanwhile Kotb's heartwarming new children's book, You Are My Happy, is available for purchase now.



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