NY1's Budd Mishkin continues his series, "One On 1," with a profile of a man who really needs no introduction: Donald Trump.
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I know, I know - why another piece on Donald Trump? It's not like he doesn't get a little bit of publicity.
NY1 spent a couple of hours with Trump at his new golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, trying to gain some insights into this most public of New York lives. Not surprisingly, it was a day filled with superlatives, about his golf course, of which Trump says: “Some magazines are saying it's the best new course built in 25 years."
Trump also offered superlatives about his buildings.
“People love my buildings. People want to be in Trump buildings,” he says. “They're the best managed, they're the best designed, [and] I generally have the best locations."
And there was high praise for his television show, “The Apprentice.”
“If you would go to my father, Fred Trump, and say your son was going to become a television star, he'd say, ÎYou have to be kidding,’” Trump says. “Who would have thought this was ever going to happen? It's actually never happened in the history of business, where a businessman became a television star. There’s never been anything like it. You look at the other shows that tried to copy it; [Richard] Branson tried and failed, Marc Cuban, who owns your Dallas team, tried and he failed miserably - no ratings. Tommy Hilfiger tried and it's a total failure, just a disaster. And so many others that I could name and they all failed, and yet ÎThe Apprentice’ is just this monster television show.”
Be it ÎThe Apprentice’ or the public birthday party bashes thrown for him in Atlantic City attended by thousands, Donald Trump does things in a big way. I know, that's not exactly news. The question is, why?
"I've just always found it's easier to do things big," he says. “When Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles gets built, when it's completed — and it’s now just about complete - it will be a course that’s better than Pebble Beach, and I get a great kick out of that. I'd rather do that than do something that's average."
Trump says he never made a conscious decision to live his life in the public eye. He says, yes, his celebrity means that people will take his call when he's trying to make a deal. But he claims there's a drawback too.
"In the old days I'd be able to walk down Manhattan streets and check out real estate and look at locations and look at things, and today I can't do that,” he says. “I can't walk on the street I can't do that like I used to. There are many times in my life when I wish it wasn't so public. I wish I could just walk down Fifth Avenue and just look in the windows and enjoy myself, and I can't do that.”
Success on this level brings to mind the title of the old game show, "Who Do You Trust?" Do these people, are they coming to Trump or befriending him because of what he has or who he is, and would they be there for him if the bottom fell out?
“Well, I trust very few people,” he says. “And it is a very fair question, and in a way it's sort of nasty in implication and that's ok. Other than family I trust very few people. There are very few people that you can trust. Right now everyone, and I say very affectionately, kisses my ass, but if I didn't have what I have I wonder whether or not that would be so, and I think probably it wouldn't be so.”
Spend a few hours with Donald Trump and what comes through is a view of the world in black and white. He is not one for shades of gray.
“I know people that could be successful, they're very smart, but they do give up. They're quitters, and therefore they're losers,” he says. “I just don't give up. I refuse to give up. I will never give up on anything."
From his bestseller, “The Art of the Deal,” through his television fame, Trump has exhibited a bravado that comes through loud and clear in much of what he says publicly.
And yet, he says: “Well I think everybody has moments of doubt. I’d love to sit here and say, ÎI never have doubt. I have total confidence.’ People seem to think that about me, but it's not really true. You always have moments of doubt. I think there's not a lot of people that enjoy life more than me, but don't be fooled by the confidence. I probably don't have as much confidence as you are led to believe."
Long before the golf courses and the buildings, the lavish birthday parties and a television hit, Donald Trump was a baseball-obsessed kid growing up in Queens watching his father work night and day and weekends doing real estate in the outer boroughs.
He learned business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. But he also learned by going with his father's employees into tough neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
“I used to go with rent collectors and they'd knock on the side of the door and I'd say, ÎWhat are you doing?’ and he'd say, ÎYou never stand in front of door around here and knock,’ because bullets would come through the door,” Trump says.
Trump quickly realized this was not for him.
“I said, ÎPop, I want to go to Manhattan.’ Then he said, ÎYou don't know anything about Manhattan. That's a whole different world.’ And it was," he says.
Manhattan quickly became his world. As the walls of his office attest, his success brought plenty of attention, as the deals just kept on coming.
“I started the concept of the Grand Hyatt probably in 1977, so they started to write stories about this young guy that’s got real estate deals in his blood,” he says. “And then I did the convention center. The Jacob Javits Convention Center was my deal a long time ago.”
There was the first of six books, “The Art of the Deal," a high-profile marriage to Ivana, and three kids, and buildings in New York and casinos in Atlantic City. And then the real estate market collapsed.
In the early 90's, he owed billions of dollars. He credits some of his bankers with helping him survive those problems. And he clearly has not forgotten those who he believes did not stand by him when the ship was sinking.
"It was a time to test people. And there were people who were extremely loyal to me, but there were also people who were not so loyal, and to this day I go after them,” he says. “So if I have a chance to go after some of the people who were not loyal to me I always take advantage of it, believe me. I have had case after case of people who really should have been more loyal to me and weren't, and now they are calling to me, ÎOh, let's have dinner,’ and I have zero interest. But I've had some very good examples of people who were not loyal to me who, when given the chance, I was able to do numbers on. And I'm very proud of that.”
Trump's problems from the early 90s now seem like ancient history. He is married for the third time, a television star, and he’s even in the movies.
There are so many parts of Donald Trump's life that are beyond the comprehension of many of us; the billion-dollar deals, the life on the red carpet, the Florida mansion, the birthday parties attended by thousands.
But the moment that perhaps best symbolizes how this is a life unlike any others, even any other celebrity life in New York, is the 1990 New York Post headline, the line reportedly uttered about Trump by then girlfriend Marla Maples, "Best Sex I've Ever Had."
“Well, that was a statement made by Marla and it ended up being a much bigger statement,” he says. “At first I was very insulted, and then I thought about it and I said, ÎYou know, is that such a bad thing after all when you really think about it?’"
Did we gain any insight into how Donald Trump genuinely sees himself and his work? Hard to say.
But his final comments to us seem to portray this uniquely New York story perfectly: “It's a whole different life. It's a different life than most people would have, and I'm having a great amount of fun. It gets you to build the best courses in the world, it gets you to build the best buildings in the world, and I'm just really having a lot of fun.”
- Budd Mishkin
|ONE ON 1 EXTRA|
Take a behind-the-scenes look at this week's "One On 1" profile with Budd Mishkin's full, uncut interview in Real Video: