“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?”
Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American real estate developer, television personality, business author, and political candidate. He is the chairman and president of The Trump Organization, and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Trump’s career, branding efforts, lifestyle and outspoken manner helped make him a celebrity, a status amplified by the success of his NBC reality show, The Apprentice.
Trump is a son of Fred Trump, a New York City real estate developer. Donald Trump worked for his father’s firm, Elizabeth Trump & Son, while attending the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and officially joined the company in 1968. In 1971, he was given control of the company, renaming it The Trump Organization. Trump remains a major figure in American real estate.
On June 16, 2015, Trump formally announced his candidacy for president of the United States in the 2016 election, seeking the nomination of the Republican Party. Trump’s early campaigning drew intense media coverage and saw him rise to high levels of popular support. Since late July 2015, he has consistently been the front-runner in public opinion polls for the Republican Party nomination.
Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in the borough of Queens in New York City. He is the fourth of five children born to Mary Anne (née MacLeod) and Fred Trump, who had married in 1936. His sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a United States federal judge on senior status for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Trump’s mother was a Scottish immigrant, born on the Isle of Lewis, off the west coast of Scotland. Trump’s paternal grandparents were German immigrants; Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, was a successful Klondike Gold Rush restaurateur who anglicized the family name. In his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that Friedrich Drumpf was of Swedish origin, an assertion previously made by Fred Trump for many years. Trump later acknowledged his German ancestry and served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City.
While living in a two-story mock Tudor home on Wareham Place in Jamaica Estates, Trump attended the private Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, Queens, where Fred Trump, Donald’s father, was a member of the Board of Trustees. Some of his siblings also attended Kew-Forest. Trump’s father told an interviewer in 1983 he “was a pretty rough fellow when he was small”, prompting him to enroll his son in the New York Military Academy (NYMA) in eighth grade for the duration of his high school education. Trump participated in marching drills and wore a uniform, attaining the rank of “cadet captain” in his senior year. He told a biographer in 2015 that NYMA gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military”.
Trump attended Fordham University in the Bronx for two years, before transferring to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, because Wharton then had one of the few real estate studies departments in U.S. academia. He graduated in 1968, with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.
Trump came of age for the draft during the Vietnam War. In an interview in 2011 on New York station WNYW, he stated, “I actually got lucky because I had a very high draft number.” Selective Service records retrieved by The Smoking Gun website from the National Archives show that, although Trump did eventually receive a high selective service lottery number in 1969, he was not drafted earlier because of four student deferments (2-S) while attending college, and after receiving a medical deferment (1-Y, later converted to 4-F) obtained in 1968 after his college graduation, prior to the lottery being initiated. Trump was deemed fit for service after a military medical examination in 1966, and was briefly classified as 1-A by a local draft board shortly before his 1968 medical disqualification. Trump attributed his medical deferment to “heel spurs” in both feet, according to a 2015 biographer, but told an Iowa campaign audience he suffered from a spur in one foot, though he could not remember which one.
Trump began his career at his father’s real estate company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, which focused on middle-class rental housing in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. One of Trump’s first projects, while he was still in college, was the revitalization of the foreclosed Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, which his father had purchased for $5.7 million in 1962. The Trumps became involved in the project and with a $500,000 investment, turned the 1,200-unit complex’s occupancy rate from 34% to 100%. In 1972, the Trump Organization sold Swifton Village for $6.75 million.
In 1971, Trump moved to Manhattan and became involved in larger building projects and used attractive architectural design to win public recognition. Trump initially came to public attention in 1973, when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings. Trump in turn accused the Justice Department of targeting his company because it was a large one, and to force it to rent to welfare recipients. Trump settled the charges in 1975, saying he was satisfied that the agreement did not “compel the Trump organization to accept persons on welfare as tenants unless as qualified as any other tenant.”
Trump made plans to acquire and develop the old Penn Central for $60 million with no money down. Later, with the help of a 40-year tax abatement from the New York City government, he turned the bankruptCommodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt and created The Trump Organization.
New York City had a plan to build the Javits Convention Center on property for which Trump held a right-to-buy option. Trump estimated his company could have completed the project for $110 million but the city rejected his offer and Trump received a broker’s fee on the sale of the property instead. Repairs on The Wollman Rink in Central Park (built in 1955) were started in 1980 with an expected 2½-year construction schedule but were nowhere near completion by 1986. Trump took over the management of the project, at no cost to the city, and completed it in three months for $1.95 million, which was $750,000 less than the initial budget.
In 1988, Trump acquired the Taj Mahal Casino in a transaction with Merv Griffin and Resorts International, which led to mounting debt, and by 1989, Trump was unable to meet loan payments. Although he shored up his businesses with additional loans and postponed interest payments, by 1991, increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy. Banks and bond holders had lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but opted to restructure the debt. The Taj Mahal emerged from bankruptcy on October 5, 1991, with Trump ceding 50 percent ownership in the casino to the original bondholders in exchange for lowered interest rates on the debt and more time to pay it off. He also sold his financially challenged Trump Shuttle airline and his 282-foot megayacht, the Trump Princess. The late 1990s saw a resurgence in Trump’s financial situation. The will of Trump’s father, who died in 1999, divided an estate estimated at $250–$300 million equally among his four surviving children.
In 2001, Donald Trump completed Trump World Tower, a 72-story residential tower across from the United Nations Headquarters. Also, he began construction on Trump Place, a multi-building development along the Hudson River. Trump owns commercial space in Trump International Hotel and Tower, a 44-story mixed-use (hotel and condominium) tower on Columbus Circle. Trump owns several million square feet of prime Manhattan real estate.
Without personal capital investment, Trump has licensed his name and image for the development of many real estate projects, including Trump International Hotel and Tower – Honolulu, Trump International Hotel and Tower – Chicago, Trump International Hotel and Tower – Toronto, and Trump Tower – Tampa. At least two Trump-branded real estate projects have gone into foreclosure.
In 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth at $4 billion. In June 2015, Business Insider published a June 30, 2014, financial statement supplied by Trump. The statement reflects his net worth as $8.7 billion. Of that amount, $3.3 billion is represented by “Real Estate Licensing Deals, Brand and Branded Developments”, described by Business Insider as “basically [implying] that Trump values his character at $3.3 billion.” In July 2015, the Federal election regulators released new details of his wealth and financial holdings when he became a Republican presidential candidate.
Business ventures and investments
Trump branding and licensing
Beyond his traditional ventures in the real estate, hospitality, and entertainment industries, Trump has established the Trump name and brand in other industries and products. With mixed success, Trump has marketed his name on a large number of products, including Trump Mortgage (2006–2007), Trump Sales and Leasing (residential sales), Trump Restaurants (located in Trump Tower and consisting of Trump Buffet, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, and Trump Bar), GoTrump (a 2006–2007 online travel website), Donald J. Trump Signature Collection (a line of menswear, men’s accessories, and watches), Donald J. Trump: The Fragrance (2004), Trump Magazine (2007–2009), Trump Golf, Trump Chocolate, Trump home (home furnishings), Trump Productions (a television production company), The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (formerly Trump University, 2005–2011), Trump: The Game (1989 board game, relaunched 2005, discontinued), Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon (a business simulation game), Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle (1989–1992), Trump Ice, Trump Vodka (2005–2011), and Trump Steaks (launched 2007, discontinued). In addition, Trump reportedly receives $1.5 million for each one-hour presentation he does for The Learning Annex.
In 2011, Forbes ’ financial experts estimated the value of the Trump brand at $200 million. Trump disputes this valuation, saying that his brand is worth about $3 billion. Many developers pay Trump to market their properties and to be the public face for their projects. For that reason, Trump does not own many of the buildings that display his name. According to Forbes, this portion of Trump’s empire, actually run by his children, is by far his most valuable, having a $562 million valuation. According to Forbes, there are 33 licensing projects under development including seven “condo hotels” (the seven Trump International Hotel and Tower developments).
In April 2011, amidst speculation whether Trump would run as a candidate in the U.S. presidential election of 2012, Politico quoted unnamed sources close to him stating that, if Trump should decide to run for president, he would file “financial disclosure statements that [would] show his net worth [was] in excess of $7 billion with more than $250 million of cash, and very little debt”. (Presidential candidates are required to disclose their finances after announcing their intentions to run.) Although Trump did not run as a candidate in the 2012 elections, his professionally prepared 2012 financial disclosure was published in his book stating a $7 billion net worth.
Estimates of Trump’s net worth have fluctuated along with real estate valuations: in 2015, Forbes pegged it as $4 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (which scrutinized Trump’s FEC filings) estimated a net worth of $2.9 billion. On June 16, 2015, just prior to announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump released to the media a one-page prepared financial disclosure statement “from a big accounting firm—one of the most respected” stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich”, Trump said. Forbes called the nearly $9 billion figure a “100%” exaggeration. In July 2015, the Federal election regulators released new details of Trump’s wealth and financial holdings when he became a Republican presidential candidate, reporting that his assets are worth above $1.4 billion, which includes at least $70 million in stocks, and a debt of at least $265 million.
Trump claimed in a July 2015 press release, one month after announcing his presidential run, that his “net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS”. However, Trump has said in the past that “my net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings—even my own feelings”. Forbes has said that although Trump “shares a lot of information with us that helps us get to the figures we publish”, he “consistently pushes for a higher net worth—especially when it comes to the value of his personal brand.” Forbes reduced its estimate of Trump’s net worth by $125 million following Trump’s controversial 2015 remarks about undocumented Mexican immigrants, which ended Trump’s business contracts with NBCUniversal, Univision, Macy’s,Serta, PVH Corporation, and Perfumania.
Trump Tower is a 58-story, mixed-use skyscraper at 725 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of East 56th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was developed by Trump and the Equitable Life Assurance Company, and was designed by architect Der Scutt of Swanke Hayden Connell. It is today solely owned by Trump.
Trump Tower occupies the former site of the architecturally significant Bonwit Teller flagship store, demolished in 1980. Trump courted controversy for destroying valuable Art Deco bas-relief sculptures on its facade, promised to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and for a contractor’s use of some 200 undocumented Polish immigrant workers in the rushed demolition process, who were paid (if at all) just $4 and $5 per hour for work in 12-hour-shifts. Trump testified in 1990 he rarely visited the site and was unaware of the illegal workers, some of whom lived at the site and who were known as the “Polish Brigade”. A long-running labor lawsuit was settled in 1999, with its record sealed.
Stock market investments
According to a 2015 campaign claim, Trump made a rare foray into the stock market beginning in 2011 after facing poor returns on bank deposits and being disappointed with the depressed American real estate market. Trump stated that he wasn’t enthusiastic to be a stock market investor, but that prime real estate at good prices was hard to find at that time. Among the stocks Trump claims to have purchased were Bank of America,Citigroup, Caterpillar Inc., Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Facebook. On selling stock picks in 2014, Trump said he earned a $27 million profit, with 40 of the 45 stocks purchased generating a profit.
In 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals for the inaugural season of the United States Football League (USFL). The Generals hired former New York Jets head coach Walt Michaels. Prior to the inaugural season, Trump sold the franchise to Oklahoma oil magnate J. Walter Duncan. Prior to the 1984 season, Duncan sold the team back to Trump.
The USFL planned to play its 1986 schedule in the fall, directly opposite the NFL, thanks mostly to Trump’s strong advocacy of direct competition with the older, established league. Two years earlier, Trump sold most of his fellow owners on a move to the fall by arguing that it would eventually force a merger with the NFL—in which the owners of any USFL teams included in a merger would see their investment more than double.
The Generals merged with the Houston Gamblers during the extended offseason, adding such stars as quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Ricky Sanders. Michaels was fired, replaced with former Gamblers coach Jack Pardee, who planned to bring the Gamblers’ high-powered run and shoot offense with him. However, the USFL’s “Dream Team” never took the field. The 1986 season was cancelled after the USFL won a minimal verdict in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL; the league folded soon afterward.
The Trump Organization operates many golf courses and resorts in the United States and around the world. On February 11, 2014, it was announced that Trump had purchased Doonbeg Golf Club in the Republic of Ireland. It was confirmed that Doonbeg Golf Club would be renamed Trump International Golf Links, Ireland. In 2006, Trump bought the Menie estate in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland creating a highly contentious golf resort. In April 2014, Trump purchased the Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, which is a regular fixture in the Open Championship rota. In June 2015, Trump’s appeal objecting to an offshore windfarm (Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm) within sight of the golf links was denied.