"Vanderpump Rules" is already shooting Season 11, but the person who is the centerpiece of all the drama -- Raquel Leviss -- just began negotiating with Bravo this week, and there are complications in sealing the deal ... TMZ has learned.
Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Bravo, production and Raquel's team began talking about a new contract just 3 days ago. We don't know the specifics of what was discussed, but it's standard operating procedure in the entertainment biz to make salary item #1.
Whatever terms they have already discussed, it appears none were deal-breakers, because the negotiations are continuing.
The reality -- if Bravo jumps the gun, makes a deal and brings her back too early, they could face legal peril if she backslides.
So, you ask ... why did they begin negotiating THIS week? The answer -- because our sources say, Raquel will leave the facility "soon." That gives production the green light to start the negotiations.
Now here's the practical problem ... the longer 'VPR' rolls cameras, the harder it's gonna be to integrate Raquel into the storylines. No one wants to pressure her to come back too early, but they want a show with lots of drama. A source connected to the show tells us ... production is ready when she is ready.