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Donald Trump - Billionaire Real Estate Tycoon and Host of The Apprentice


Donald Trump has a long list of accomplishments. While he may be best known in pop culture for The Apprentice, he built his reputation and his fortune (and lost it and built it again) in commercial real estate. He has developed some of Manhattan's most prestigious office buildings, residences and hotels, as well as casinos, hotels and golf resorts in prime locations like Atlantic City, Palm Beach and Palm Springs. He is also owner of the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.

Early Life:

Donald Trump was born June 14, 1946, into a very privileged upbringing. He attended New York Military Academy and Fordham University before transferring to the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor's degree in economics in 1968. From there, he joined his father's real estate business in Brooklyn. "My father was my mentor and I learned a tremendous amount about every aspect of the construction industry from him," says Trump.

Real Estate Boom:

In the early 1970s, Trump shifted from his father's focus on middle-class rental housing and turned toward commercial real estate development. The city of New York was offering sizable tax breaks to willing investors. Trump's dealmaking skills allowed him to secure loans with little collateral. This was a powerful combination, which allowed him to build an empire in real estate and entertainment, becoming somewhat of a celebrity in the process.


Though Trump is known for turning bad real estate into lots of money and understands the psychology of making deals, he still fell victim to the recession of the late 1980s. Unable to meet loan payments, he declared business bankruptcy in 1990. Rather than risking a court fight, his creditors agreed to a debt restructuring. He managed to stay out of personal bankruptcy, even though he had accumulated some $900 million in personal debt.

Turnaround and Turnaround Again:

Trump was forced to relinquish his new airline, Trump Shuttle, and to sell off his largest Manhattan real estate parcel. He did, however, oversee the construction of the buildings placed on the site, in exchange for a cash fee and a portion of future profits. By 1994, Trump had repaid much of his personal debt and some of the $3.5 billion in business debt. But the rollercoaster continued. In November 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts filed for Chapter 11, but emerged from it in May 2005.

"The Donald":

Nicknamed “The Donald,” Trump is popular for his extravagant, flamboyant, arrogant, cocky personality. Part of his business tactics is media exposure. He stands out from the others as he speaks his mind and will refuse your handshake as he sees it as a barbaric gesture to hand out germs. He criticizes others publicly and exploits his “know it all” intellect. He is a consummate self-promoter who understands the power of branding. The name "Trump" always appears in the name of his buildings.

The Apprentice:

Trump is host and producer of NBC’s new reality series The Apprentice, where several lucky candidates fight to become part of his organization. Each week one contestant is asked by Trump to leave with the now-familiar, "You're fired!" (Trump has filed a trademark claim on the phrase). Trump was paid a mere $50,000 per episode for the first season, but is now paid a reported $3 million per episode. He has expanded The Apprentice with an additional series featuring Martha Stewart.

Just How Much Is Trump Worth?:

The Forbes 400 lists Trump's net worth as $2.7 billion. Trump himself claims to be worth over $5 billion. But an October 2005 New York Times Magazine article says that both of these claims are exaggerated, and that most likely he is not even a billionaire (I'd trade balance sheets with him, wouldn't you?).

Family Life:

In 1977 Trump married fashion model Ivana Zelnièkova and they have three children: Donald, Jr. (1977), Ivanka (1981) and Eric (1984). They were divorced in 1992. In 1993 he married actress Marla Maples, and together they have one child, Tiffany (1993). They divorced in 1999. In 1999, he began dating model Melanija Knavs, and they were married in 2005. Knavs gained some notoriety after a tell-all about her sex life with Trump on the Howard Stern show, followed by a nude layout in GQ magazine.

Books and More:

Donald has written several best-selling books detailing his career and the business wisdom he has acquired, including:

He has also created Trump University, which offers online courses, audio courses and boot camps in marketing, real estate, entrepreneurship, wealth creation, and personal development. He also contributes to The Trump Blog, featuring "ideas and opinions from Donald Trump and his circle of experts".

In a recent post saying that he had declined an invitation from Senator Joe Bruno to run for governor of New York, he said:

"I've always told people that to be successful you have to enjoy what you're doing and right now I really enjoy what I'm doing. I'm having too much fun with my life. Why would I want to do something else? Why would I want to run for governor? ... I have absolutely no interest in running for office at this time. I've got too many other fun things to do."

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