It’s no secret that media mogul Oprah Winfrey helped launch Dr. Phil McGraw‘s television career back in the late 1990s — but do the two remain friends all these years later? “Oh, yeah! We talk to and see each other on a regular basis. Oprah is one of our dearest friends, and someone both [my wife, Robin McGraw], and I treasure because we can be totally candid with her,” the 67-year-old star exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview.

Though Phil loves spending time with his family — especially his two adorable grandchildren! — today, his work on The Dr. Phil Show is still his pride and joy. “He always says he’s truly honored to be ‘the voice of America’s common sense.’ He beams when he says it,” an insider told Closer. Dr. Phil has similarly said, “I’ve been given a national platform, and I need to be a really good steward of that. I take that [responsibility] very seriously.”

Phil has, after all, worked hard and taken big risks to get to where he is now. “There’s got to be something that lights you up — maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s the difference you’re making in the world [but] it doesn’t matter as long as it’s important to you. I don’t care if you’re 50, 60 or 70. If you wake up and there is not something you’re passionate about, you need to stop what you are doing and find it,” he has said of his career.

That’s exactly what he did when he walked away from his very successful former job as a psychologist in the ’90s because he didn’t find it fulfilling. “I was letting days turn into weeks, months and years without clarity about what I wanted to do,” Dr. Phil, who found himself hedging his own bets until something finally clicked inside of him, shared. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” he added. “I called my own bluff, shut down my practice and said, ‘I’m going to do something else’ — and I did!”

His reinvention led to him co-founding Courtroom Sciences Inc., a firm that helps litigants prepare to face a jury before they go to trial. In 1996, when Oprah was fighting off a lawsuit levied against her by the Texas beef industry, she became a client. “She and I had a lot of late-night talks at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” Dr. Phil said of how the two formed their incredibly tight bond.

All the long hours spent on the trial paid off. Not only did Oprah win her case, but she would soon build one for Dr. Phil on her top-rated daytime talker. “She said, ‘I want you to meet the man that gave me back to myself because I lost myself,'” Dr. Phil recalled of her humbling yet life-changing stamp of approval that helped him launch his own successful series in 2002. “I was very flattered. It was good to know that I had an impact.”

For more on Dr. Phil, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!

dr. phil closer weekly