Donald Trump

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
45th President of the United States
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence
Preceded by Barack Obama
Personal details
Born Donald John Trump
(1946-06-14) June 14, 1946 (age 71)
New York City
Political party Republican (1987–99, 2009–11, 2012–present)
Other political
  • Independent (2011–12)
  • Democratic (until 1987, 2001–09)
  • Reform (1999–2001)
Relations See Family of Donald Trump
Residence White House
Alma mater The Wharton School (B.S.inEcon.)
Net worth Increase US$~10 billion (March 2017)
Signature Donald J Trump stylized autograph, in ink

Donald Trump, born Donald John Trump June 14, 1946 in New York City, New York, is an American businessman, television personality, best selling author and the 45th and current President of the United States.

The 45th and current President of the United States, Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017. Before entering politics, he was a businessman, television personality, real-estate magnate and best selling author responsible for 20 books released between 1987 and 2016.

Trump was born in Queens, New York City and earned an economics degree from the Wharton School. For 45 years, he managed The Trump Organization, the real estate development firm founded by his paternal grandmother. His career focused on building or renovating office towers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses, although he started several side ventures and branded various products with his firm's name. He produced and hosted the television series The Apprentice for 12 years. As of 2017, he was the 544th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of about $10 billion, although sources such as Forbes try claiming his net worth is only around $3.5 billion.

Trump had long expressed interest in politics, eventually entering the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated sixteen opponents in the primaries. Commentators described his political positions as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. His campaign received extensive free media coverage because many of his public statements were being boasted as being controversial or false. Trump won the general election on November 8, 2016, in a surprise victory against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He became the oldest and wealthiest person ever to assume the presidency, the first, not counting his enrollment and attendance at the New York Military Academy, without military or government service, and due to the overwhelming number of illegal immigrants being urged to vote by the Clinton and the Obama Administration[citation needed], the fifth to have won the election despite losing the popular vote. His election and policies have sparked numerous protests, many of which have been revealed to have been paid for by the Clintons and/or George Soros[citation needed].

In the first months of his presidency, Trump has fulfilled several "first 100 days" promises, reversing several policies of former President Barack Obama, withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Agreement, and undoing parts of the Cuban Thaw. Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and has ordered a travel ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries that has been partially implemented.[1] After Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey, his predecessor Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election, potential links between Russia and Trump campaign associates, and any related matters. Final ruling finds that President Trump never colluded with the Russians, nor was any crime committed[citation needed].

Family and personal life


Trump's ancestors originated from the German village of Kallstadt, Palatinate, on his father's side, and from the Outer Hebrides isles of Scotland on his mother's side. His grandparents, as well as his mother, were all born in Europe. His mother's grandfather was also christened "Donald".[2]

Trump's paternal grandfather, Friedrich Trump (later Frederick), first emigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16, and became a citizen in 1892. He amassed a fortune operating boom-town restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada, during the Klondike gold rush.[3] On a visit to Kallstadt, he met Elisabeth Christ and married her in 1902. The couple settled in New York permanently in 1905,[4] where Frederick died from influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic.[5]

Trump's father Fred was born in 1905 in the Bronx, and started working with his mother in real estate when he was 15, shortly after his father's death. Their company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, was primarily active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Fred eventually built and sold thousands of houses, barracks and apartments,[5][6] and the company would later become The Trump Organization after Donald Trump took over in 1971.[7]

Donald's mother Mary Anne was born in Tong, Lewis, Scotland. At age 18 in 1930, she emigrated to New York where she worked as a maid.[8] Fred and Mary were married in 1936 and raised their family in Queens.[8][9]

Fred's brother John (Donald's uncle) became a physicist and inventor.[10]

Early life and education

A black-and-white photograph of Donald Trump as a teenager, smiling and wearing a dark uniform with various badges and a light-colored stripe crossing his right shoulder. This image was taken while Trump was in the New York Military Academy in 1964.
Trump at New York Military Academy, 1964[11][12]

Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Queens, New York City. He was the fourth of five children born to Frederick Christ "Fred" Trump (1905–1999) and Mary Anne Trump (née MacLeod, 1912–2000).[13] His siblings are Maryanne (born 1937), Fred Jr. (1938–1981), Elizabeth (born 1942), and Robert (born 1948).

Trump grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens, New York. He attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade. At age 13, Trump's parents enrolled him in the New York Military Academy, after discovering Donald made frequent trips into Manhattan without permission.[14][15] In August 1964, Trump entered Fordham University.[11][16] He transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania two years later, because it offered one of the few real estate studies departments in United States academia at the time.[17][16]

In addition to his father, Trump was inspired by Manhattan developer William Zeckendorf, vowing to be "even bigger and better".[18] While at Wharton, he worked at the family business, Elizabeth Trump and Son,[19] graduating in May 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.[16][20][21]

Trump was not drafted during the Vietnam War.[22] While in college from 1964 to 1968, he obtained four student deferments.[23] In 1966, he was deemed fit for service based upon a military medical examination, and in 1968 was briefly classified as fit by a local draft board, but was given a 1-Y medical deferment in October 1968,[24] attributed to calcaneal (heel) spurs.[25] In 1969, he received a high number in the draft lottery, which made him unlikely to be called.[24][26][27]


At the January 20 swearing-in: Trump, wife Melania, son Donald Jr., son Barron, daughter Ivanka, son Eric, and daughter Tiffany

Trump's siblings are Maryanne (b. 1937), Fred Jr. (1938–1981), Elizabeth (b. 1942), and Robert (b. 1948). Maryanne is an inactive Federal Appeals Court judge on the Third Circuit.[28]

Trump has five children by three marriages, and has eight grandchildren.[29][30] Due to his growing celebrity status, his first two marriages ended in widely publicized divorces.[31]

Trump married his first wife, Czech model Ivana Zelníčková, on April 7, 1977, at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan in a ceremony performed by the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale.[32][33] They had three children: son Donald Jr. (born December 31, 1977), daughter Ivanka (born October 30, 1981), and son Eric (born January 6, 1984). Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988.[34] The couple divorced in 1992 following Trump's affair with actress Marla Maples.[35]

In October 1993, Maples gave birth to Trump's daughter Tiffany, named after Tiffany & Company.[36] Maples and Trump were married two months later on December 20, 1993.[37] They were divorced in 1999,[38] and Tiffany was raised by her mother in California.[39]

The President and First Lady at the Liberty Ball on Inauguration Day

Trump married Slovene model Melania Knauss on January 22, 2005 at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.[40] In 2006, Melania acquired United States citizenship[41] and she gave birth to their son Barron on March 20.[42][43] Upon Trump's accession to the presidency, Melania became First Lady of the United States.

Prior to his inauguration as president, Trump delegated the management of his real estate business to his two adult sons, Eric and Don Jr.[44] His daughter Ivanka resigned from The Trump Organization and moved to Washington with her husband Jared Kushner. She serves as assistant to the president,[45] while he is a Senior Advisor in the White House.[46]


Trump's ancestors were Lutheran on his father's side in Germany[47] and Presbyterian on his mother's side in Scotland.[48] His parents married in a Manhattan Presbyterian church in 1936.[49] As a child, he attended the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, and had his Confirmation there.[33] In the 1970s, his family joined the Marble Collegiate Church (an affiliate of the Reformed Church in America) in Manhattan.[50] The pastor at that church, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and The Art of Living, ministered to Trump's family and mentored him until Peale's death in 1993.[51][50] Trump, who is Presbyterian,[52][53] has cited Peale and his works during interviews when asked about the role of religion in his personal life.[50]

Trump participates in Holy Communion, but has said that he does not ask God for forgiveness, stating: "I think if I do something wrong, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture."[54] On the campaign trail, Trump has referred to The Art of the Deal as his second favorite book after the Bible, saying "Nothing beats the Bible."[55] In a 2016 speech to Liberty University, he referred to "Two Corinthians", possibly a reference to First Corinthians, verse 2, but was instead believed to have been referring to "Second Corinthians", eliciting chuckles from the audience.[56] Despite this, The New York Times reported that Evangelical Christians nationwide thought "that his heart was in the right place, that his intentions for the country were pure."[57]

Trump has had relationships with a number of Christian spiritual leaders, including Florida pastor Paula White, who has been called his "closest spiritual confidant."[58] In 2015, he received a blessing from Greek Orthodox priest Emmanuel Lemelson[59] and in 2016, he released a list of his religious advisers, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed and others.[60] Referring to his daughter Ivanka's conversion to Judaism before her marriage to Jared Kushner, Trump said: "I have a Jewish daughter; and I am very honored by that."[61]


A 2016 medical report issued by his doctor, Harold Bornstein M.D., showed that Trump's blood pressure, liver and thyroid function were in normal ranges.[62][63] Trump says that he has never smoked cigarettes or consumed other drugs, including marijuana.[64] He also drinks no alcohol, a decision arising in part from watching his older brother Fred Jr. suffer from alcoholism until his early death in 1981.[65][66]


Trump said that he began his career with "a small loan of one million dollars" from his father.[67] He appeared on the initial Forbes List of wealthy individuals in 1982 with an estimated $200 million fortune, including an "undefined" share of his parents' estate.[68] During the 1980s he became a billionaire,[69] but he was absent from the Forbes list from 1990 to 1995 following business losses; he reportedly borrowed from his siblings' trusts in 1993.[68] His father's estate, valued at more than $20 million, was divided in 1999 among Trump, his three surviving siblings and their children.[70][71]

A tall rectangular-shaped tower in Las Vegas with exterior windows reflecting a golden hue. It is a sunny day and the building is higher than many of the surrounding buildings, also towers. There are mountains in the background. This tower is called the Trump Hotel Las Vegas.
Trump Hotel Las Vegas, with gold infused glass[72]

When he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, Trump released a one-page financial summary that stated a net worth of $8,737,540,000.[73] The following month, he filed a 92-page FEC financial disclosure form[74] and declared his net worth was "in excess of ten billion dollars".[75] In his presidential announcement speech, he said "I'm really rich", and stated this would make him less indebted to large campaign donors.[76][77] Forbes believed his net worth estimate was "a whopper", setting their own estimate at $4.1 billion in 2015. Trump valued his "properties under development" at $293 million; Forbes said they could not evaluate those deals, and booked them for $0.[78][79] Trump's 2015 FEC disclosure reported $362 million in total income for the year 2014.[75]

After Trump made remarks about illegal immigrants in 2015 that the media deemed controversial, he lost business contracts with several companies, which reduced his Forbes estimate by $125 million.[80] Consumer boycotts and reduced bookings may have further affected his brand value during the presidential campaign.[81][82][83] Trump's 104-page FEC disclosure in May 2016[84] still claimed a total wealth over $10 billion, unchanged from 2015.[74] The release of the Access Hollywood tapes in October 2016 put further pressure on his brand,[85] but real estate experts predicted a positive rebound after he was elected.[86]

In their 2017 billionaires' ranking, Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $3.5 billion (544th in the world, 201st in the U.S.)[87] making him one of the richest politicians in American history. These estimates fluctuate from year to year, and among various analysts. In July 2016 Bloomberg News had pegged his wealth at $3 billion, calling it an increase thanks to his presidential nomination,[88] whereas Forbes had ranked him 324th in the world (113th in the U.S.) with $4.5 billion just a few months earlier.[89] The discrepancies among these estimates and with Trump's own figures stem from the uncertain values of appraised property and of his personal brand.[88][90]

Business career

The distinctive façade of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan

Real estate

Trump started his career at his father's real estate development company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, which focused on middle-class rental housing in the New York City boroughs outside Manhattan, but also had business elsewhere.[91] For example, during his undergraduate study, Trump joined his father Fred in successfully revitalizing the foreclosed Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, thereby boosting the occupancy rate from 66% to 100%.[92][93]

Trump was promoted to president of the company in 1971 (while his father became chairman of the board), and renamed it The Trump Organization.[7][94] In 1973, he and his father drew wider attention when the Justice Department contended that the organization systematically discriminated against African Americans wishing to rent apartments, rather than merely screening out people based on low income, as the Trumps stated. Under an agreement reached in 1975, the Trumps made no admission of wrongdoing, and made the Urban League an intermediary for qualified minority applicants.[95][96] His adviser and attorney during (and after) that period was Roy Cohn, who responded to attacks by counterattacking with maximum force, and who valued both positive and negative publicity, which were attitudes that Trump appreciated.[97]

Manhattan developments

In 1978, Trump consummated his first major real estate deal in Manhattan, purchasing a half-share in the decrepit Commodore Hotel, largely funded by a $70 million construction loan jointly guaranteed by Fred Trump and the Hyatt hotel chain. Designed by architect Der Scutt, the project was able to proceed by leveraging competing interests and by taking advantage of tax breaks.[98] After remodeling, the hotel reopened as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, located next to Grand Central Terminal.[99][100]

Central Park's Wollman Rink, which was renovated by Trump

Also in 1978, Trump finished negotiations to develop Trump Tower, a 58-story, 202-meter (663-foot) skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, which The New York Times attributed to his "persistence" and "skills as a negotiator".[101] To make way for the new building, a crew of Polish workers demolished an old Bonwit Teller store, inadvertantly damaging art deco features that had initially been marked for preservation.[102] The building was completed in 1983, and houses both the primary penthouse condominium residence of Trump and the headquarters of The Trump Organization.[103][104] Architectural critic Paul Goldberger said in 1983 that he was surprised to find the tower's atrium was "the most pleasant interior public space to be completed in New York in some years".[105][106] Trump Tower was the setting of the NBC television show The Apprentice, and includes a fully functional television studio set.[107]

Repairs on the Wollman Rink (originally opened in 1949 in Central Park) were started in 1980 by a general contractor unconnected to Trump. Despite an expected two and one-half year construction schedule, the repairs were not completed by 1986. Trump took over the project, completed it in three months for $775,000 less than the initial budget of $1.95 million, and operated the rink for one year with all profits going to charity in exchange for the rink's concession rights.[108]

In 1988 Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for a record-setting $407 million, and asked his wife Ivana to manage its operation.[109] Trump invested $50 million to restore the building, which he called "the Mona Lisa".[110] According to hotel expert Thomas McConnell, the Trumps boosted it from a three-star to a four-star ranking, and sold it in 1995, by which time Ivana was no longer involved.[111]

In 1994, Trump became involved with a building on Columbus Circle which was swaying in the wind. He began a reconstruction project that stopped the swaying and gave the building a full makeover.[112][113] Trump thereafter owned commercial space in that 44-story mixed-use tower (hotel and condominium), which he named Trump International Hotel and Tower.[114]

Lower portion of 40 Wall Street

In 1996, Trump acquired a vacant seventy-story skyscraper on Wall Street which had briefly been the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930. After an extensive renovation, the high-rise was renamed the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street.[115]

In 1997, he began construction on Trump Place, a multi-building development along the Hudson River, and encountered delays the following year because a subcontracter had to replace defective concrete.[116][117] Ultimately, he and the other investors in that project sold their interest in 2005 for $1.8 Billion, in what was then the biggest residential sale in the history of New York City.[118]

From 1994 to 2002, Trump owned a 50% share of the Empire State Building. He would have renamed it to "Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments" if he had been able to boost his share.[119][120]

In 2001, across from the headquarters of the United Nations, he completed Trump World Tower, which for a while was the tallest all-residential tower in the world.[121] Trump acquired the former Hotel Delmonico in Manhattan in 2002, which re-opened with 35 stories of luxury condominiums in 2004 as the Trump Park Avenue.[122] Meanwhile, he continued to own millions of square feet of other prime Manhattan real estate.[123]

Palm Beach estate

Mar-a-Lago in 2009
The Trumps with Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife at Mar-a-Lago in 2017

Trump acquired the historic Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida in 1985 for $5 million, plus $3 million for the home's furnishings. It was built in the 1920s by heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, who envisioned the house as a future winter retreat for American presidents.

Trump's initial offer of $28 million had been rejected, and he was able to get the property at the much lower price by purchasing separate beachfront property and threatening to build a house on it that would block Mar-a-Lago's ocean view. In addition to using the estate as a home, Trump also turned it into a private club open to everyone who could afford the initiation fee of $100,000 plus annual dues.[124]

In 1986, he acquired a foreclosed, 33-story, twin-tower condominium complex in nearby West Palm Beach for $40 million, with automobile manufacturing executive Lee Iacocca investing in three of the condos.[125] Despite sprucing up its public areas, and years of heavy promotion, selling the units proved difficult, and the deal turned out to be unprofitable.[126]

Atlantic City casinos

New Jersey legalized gambling in 1977, and the following year Trump was in Atlantic City, New Jersey to explore how he might get involved. Seven years later, Harrah's at Trump Plaza hotel and casino opened there, built by Trump with financing from Holiday Corporation which also was managing that business.[127] Renamed "Trump Plaza" soon after opening, it was then the tallest building in Atlantic City.[128] The casino's poor results exacerbated disagreements between Trump and Holiday Corp., which led to Trump paying $70 million in May 1986 to buy out their interest in the property.[129][130] Trump also acquired a partially completed building in Atlantic City from the Hilton Corporation for $320 million; when completed in 1985, that hotel and casino became Trump Castle, and Trump's wife, Ivana, managed that property until Trump transferred her in 1988 to run the Trump Plaza Hotel in New York.[131][132]

The entrance of the Trump Taj Mahal, a casino in Atlantic City. It has motifs evocative of the Taj Mahal in India.
Entrance of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

Also in 1988, Trump acquired his third casino in Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal then halfway through construction, by making a complex transaction with the television host and entertainer Merv Griffin as well as the resort and casino company Resorts International.[133] In October 1989, three of his top Atlantic City executives died in a helicopter accident, which both stymied and delayed the planned opening of the Taj Mahal.[134] The Taj finally opened in April 1990, and was built at a total cost of $1.1 billion, which at the time made it the most expensive casino ever.[135][136] Financed with $675 million in junk bonds,[137] it was a major gamble by Trump.[138] The project underwent debt restructuring the following year,[139] leaving Trump with 50% ownership.[140] He also sold his 282-foot (86 m) megayacht, the Trump Princess, which had been indefinitely docked in Atlantic City while leased to his casinos for use by wealthy gamblers.[141][142]

Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR) in 1995, which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana.[143] THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996, and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10% ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties.[144] He served as chairman of the publicly-traded THCR organization, which was renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts, from mid-1995 until early 2009, and served as CEO from mid-2000 to mid-2005.[145]

During the 1990s, Trump's casino ventures faced competition from Native American gaming at the Foxwoods casino located on an Indian reservation in Connecticut (where it was exempt from the state's anti-gambling laws). Trump stated in 1993 that the casino owners did not resemble stereotypical Indians to him or to other Indians.[146][147] Subsequent to that well-publicized remark about the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Trump became a key investor backing the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots who were also seeking state recognition.[148]

Golf courses

 A golf course. In the background is the Turnberry Hotel, a two-story hotel with white façade and a red roof. This picture was taken in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Turnberry Hotel and golf course, Ayrshire, Scotland

The Trump Organization operates many golf courses and resorts in the United States and around the world. According to Golfweek, Trump owns or manages about 18 golf courses.[149] His personal financial disclosure with the Federal Elections Commission stated that his golf and resort revenue for the year 2015 was roughly $382 million,[74][84] while his three European golf courses had not yet started showing a profit.[88]

In 2006, Trump bought 1,400 acres (570 ha) including the Menie Estate in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and created a golf resort there.[150] Scottish supporters emphasized potential economic benefits, and opponents emphasized potential environmental harm to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).[151][152][153] A spokesperson for the golf course has said 95% of the SSSI is untouched.[154] A 2011 independent documentary, You've Been Trumped, chronicled the golf resort's construction and struggles.[155] In 2015, an offshore windfarm being built within sight of the golf course prompted a legal challenge by Trump, which was dismissed by the U.K. Supreme Court.[156] In the wake of the 2008 recession, Trump greatly scaled back development of this property, and as of December 2016 Scottish officials were pushing for completion of the far larger development as originally approved.[157]

In April 2014, Trump purchased the Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, which hosted the Open Championship four times between 1977 and 2009.[158][159] After extensive renovations and a remodeling of the course by golf architect Martin Ebert, Turnberry was re-opened in June 2016.[160]

Hotels outside New York

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, The Trump Organization expanded its footprint beyond New York with the co-development and management of hotel towers in Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Panama City, Toronto, and Vancouver. There are also Trump-branded buildings in Dubai, Honolulu, Istanbul, Manila, Mumbai and in Indonesia.[161]

Branding and licensing

Trump has marketed his name on a large number of building projects that are owned and operated by other people and companies. He has also licensed his name for various commercial products and services. In doing so, he achieved mixed success for himself, his partners, and investors in the projects.[162] In 2011, Forbes' financial experts estimated the value of the Trump brand at $200 million. Trump disputed this valuation, saying his brand was worth about $3 billion.[163]

Legal affairs and bankruptcies

As of 2016, Trump and his businesses had been involved in more than 3,500 state and federal legal actions. He or one of his companies was the plaintiff in 1,900 cases and the defendant in 1,450. With Trump or his company as plaintiff, more than half the cases have been against gamblers at his casinos who had failed to pay off their debts. With Trump or his company as a defendant, the most common type of case involved personal injury cases at his hotels. In cases where there was a clear resolution, Trump's side won 451 times and lost 38.[164][165]

Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but his hotel and casino businesses have been declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times between 1991 and 2009 in order to re-negotiate debt with banks and owners of stock and bonds.[166][167] Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while negotiations proceeded. Trump was quoted by Newsweek in 2011 saying, "I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they're very good for me" as a tool for trimming debt.[168][169]

The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).[170][171] Trump said, "I've used the laws of this country to pare debt ... We'll have the company. We'll throw it into a chapter. We'll negotiate with the banks. We'll make a fantastic deal. You know, it's like on The Apprentice. It's not personal. It's just business."[139]

A 2016 analysis of Trump's business career by the left-leaning magazine The Economist concluded that his "... performance [from 1985 to 2016] has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York", noting both his successes and bankruptcies.[172] A subsequent analysis by The Washington Post concluded that "Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success", calling his casino bankruptcies, which mostly occurred during the 2008 economic decline, the "most infamous flop" of his business career.[173]

Side ventures

After Trump took over the family real estate firm in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, he greatly expanded its real estate operations, and also ventured into numerous other business activities. The company eventually became the umbrella organization for several hundred individual business ventures and partnerships.[174]

Sports events

In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals—an American football team that played in the United States Football League (USFL)—from oil magnate J. Walter Duncan. The USFL played three seasons during the spring and summer. After the 1985 season, the organization folded due to continuous financial difficulties, despite winning an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.[175]

Trump remained involved with other sports after the Generals folded; he operated golf courses in several countries.[175] At the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, he hosted several boxing matches, which included Mike Tyson's 1988 heavyweight championship fight against Michael Spinks.[176] He also acted as a financial advisor to Mike Tyson.[177] In 1989 and 1990, Trump lent his name to the Tour de Trump cycling stage race, which was an attempt to create an American equivalent of European races such as the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.[178]

Miss Universe

From 1996 to 2015, Trump owned part or all of the Miss Universe pageants.[179][180] The Miss Universe Pageants include Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, and his management of this business involved his family members; for example, daughter Ivanka once hosted Miss Teen USA. Trump hired the first female president of the Miss Universe business in 1997.[181] He became dissatisfied with how CBS scheduled the pageants, and took both Miss Universe and Miss USA to NBC in 2002.[182][183]

In his 2015 U.S. presidential campaign kickoff speech, Trump made statements about illegal immigrants who crossed the border from Mexico. NBC then decided to end its business relationship with him and stated that it would no longer air the Miss Universe or Miss USA pageants on its networks.[184] In September 2015, Trump bought NBC's share of the Miss Universe Organization and became its sole owner for three days. He then sold the entire company to the WME/IMG talent agency.[185]

Trump University

Trump University was a for-profit education company that was founded by Trump and his associates, Michael Sexton and Jonathan Spitalny. The company ran a real estate training program and charged between $1,500 and $35,000 per course.[186][187][188] In 2005, the operation was notified by New York State authorities that its use of the word "university" was misleading and violated state law. After a second such notification in 2010, the name of the company was changed to the "Trump Entrepreneurial Institute".[189] Trump was also found personally liable for failing to have obtained a business license for the operation.[190]

In 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil suit alleging that Trump University made false statements and defrauded consumers.[189][191] In addition, two class-action civil lawsuits were filed in federal court relating to Trump University; they named Trump personally as well as his companies.[192] During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized La Raza-tied Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who oversaw those two cases, alleging bias in his rulings because of his Mexican heritage.[193][194] Shortly after Trump won the presidency, the parties agreed to a settlement of all three pending cases, whereby Trump paid a total of $25 million and denied any wrongdoing.[195][196]


The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a U.S.-based private foundation[197] established in 1988 for the initial purpose of giving away proceeds from the book Trump: The Art of the Deal.[198][199] The foundation's funds have mostly come from donors other than Trump,[200] who has not given personally to the charity since 2008.[200]

The foundation's tax returns show that it has given to health care and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups.[201] In 2009, for example, the foundation gave $926,750 to about 40 groups, with the biggest donations going to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation ($100,000), the New York–Presbyterian Hospital ($125,000), the Police Athletic League ($156,000), and the Clinton Foundation ($100,000).[202][203] From 2004 to 2014, the top donors to the foundation were Vince and Linda McMahon of WWE, who donated $5 million to the foundation after Trump appeared at WrestleMania in 2007.[200] Linda McMahon later became Administrator of the Small Business Administration.[204]

In 2016, investigations by the left-leaning newspaperThe Washington Post uncovered several potential legal and ethical violations conducted by the charity, including alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion.[205] After beginning an investigation into the foundation, the New York State Attorney General's office notified the Trump Foundation that it was allegedly in violation of New York laws regarding charities, and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York.[206][207][208] A Trump spokesman called the investigation a "partisan hit job".[206] In response to mounting complaints, Trump's team announced in late December 2016 that the Trump Foundation would be dissolved to remove "even the appearance of any conflict with [his] role as President."[209] According to an IRS filing in November 2017, the foundation intends to shut down and distribute its assets (about $970,000) to other charities. However, a spokesperson for the New York Attorney General's office said the foundation cannot legally shut down until an ongoing investigation of the charity is completed.[210]

Conflicts of interest

There were questions about how he would avoid conflicts of interest between his work in the White House and his business activities. At a press conference on January 10, 2017, Trump said that he and his daughter Ivanka would resign all roles with The Trump Organization, while his two adult sons Don Jr. and Eric would run the business, together with Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.[211]

Trump retained his financial stake in the business.[212] His attorney Sherri Dillon said that before the January 20 inauguration, Trump would put those business assets into a trust, which would hire an ethics advisor and a compliance counsel. She added that The Trump Organization would not enter any new foreign business deals, while continuing to pursue domestic opportunities.[213] As of April 2017, Trump companies owned more than 400 condo units and home lots in the United States, valued at over $250 million in total ($200,000 to $35 million each).[214]

Media career


Trump has published numerous books. His first published book in 1987 was Trump: The Art of the Deal, co-written alongside ghostwriter Tony Schwartz.[215][216] It reached number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, stayed there for 13 weeks, and altogether held a position on the list for 48 weeks.[215] Trump's published writings shifted post-2000, from generally memoirs about himself, to books giving advice about finance.[217]

Professional wrestling

Trump is a World Wrestling Entertainment fan and a friend of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. In 1988–89 Trump hosted WrestleMania IV and V at Boardwalk Hall (dubbed "Trump Plaza" for storyline purposes) and has been an active participant in several of the shows.[218] He also appeared in WrestleMania VII, and was interviewed ringside at WrestleMania XX, in 1991 and 2004, respectively.[219] Trump appeared at 2007's WrestleMania 23 in a match called "The Battle of the Billionaires".[218] In 2009, McMahon announced as part of a storyline on Monday Night Raw that he had "sold" the show to Trump.[218] McMahon "bought back" Raw the following week for twice the price.[218] In 2013, Trump was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden for his contributions to the promotion. He made his sixth WrestleMania appearance the following night at WrestleMania 29.[220] As president, Trump appointed WWE CEO Linda McMahon to his Cabinet as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.[221]

See also



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