THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
By Chaunce Hayden
Chaunce Hayden: What gets you further in life, street smarts or a degree?
Donald Trump: Usually it’s both. I would never put down education, but on the show we have an interesting blend of both. We have Harvard MBAs and doctors, and people who have become very successful without a very good education. So we have a combination of both. Both will react well and both will react badly. I’ve seen some unbelievable stupidity from brilliant people. I’ve also seen some unbelievable genius.
The name Trump has become the 21st century’s logo for wealth. At this very moment, could you tell me what your net worth is, or would it take you days to figure it out?
I really don’t follow it. It changes rapidly because of the kind of really great real estate that I have. So when the market goes up my worth goes up, when the market goes down, my net worth goes down somewhat. But I’m the largest developer in the city. I have the best projects in the city, and to be honest it’s not something that I think about. It ranges from X dollars to X dollars. But I will tell you that it’s a lot. More than I ever anticipated when I was starting out.
Does money buy happiness?
No, but it buys convenience. Money cannot ever buy happiness. Ever. But it can certainly make life a lot easier. You don’t have to worry about your children’s education or doctor’s bills, et cetera.
On the flip side, can money cause you misery?
Yeah, when you have a lot of money it can cause misery. But I’d rather have that kind of misery than the misery without it.
Being young, beautiful, and rich has become very hip and in style on a mainstream level. We seem to be embracing the rich like never before. What does that say about our society?
I think it says that our culture is all about incentives and working. I see it all the time. Look, that’s why I had over 215,000 people apply for a job. Nobody has ever seen such a thing. It tells you that people want to work. Money is just a scorecard.
HBO once aired a controversial documentary called “Rich Kids.” Did you get a chance to see it?
Your daughter, Ivanka, is one of several young people featured in the documentary who have grown up with the privileges of extreme wealth. Of all the rich kids, I thought your daughter came out looking the most normal. What did you think?
I think she did very well.
What did you think of the other children who were featured?
It was very disturbing to me to hear what those young folks were saying. It was very disturbing to hear some of their statements. But I was very happy with my daughter’s statements and her views on life.
You have to agree it made you look like you did something right in terms of how you raised Ivanka, compared to the other wealthy parents. That said, what do you think went wrong with Paris Hilton, and what would you do if you were her father?
Her father is a very good friend of mine and he’s a very good guy and a very smart guy. He doesn’t need advice from me. He’s got a daughter who’s very beautiful, and in my opinion a very smart girl who is going to go places. I don’t think she’s been given the credit she deserves. Maybe someday she’ll get the credit. Who knows?
In the early ‘90s you were billions of dollars in debt. However, you managed to overcome it. What did you learn from that experience?
I learned that I could handle pressures. When the real estate market collapsed I was in some pretty serious financial trouble. I had many friends who went bankrupt and out of business. But I fought it through and didn’t have to do any of those legal maneuvers, and today my company is much stronger than it ever was. I guess I learned that I can handle adversity and pressure in bad times. Something you don’t know if you can handle until it actually happens to you.
Did you surprise yourself?
Yeah, maybe I did. But I was working so hard at the time I didn’t have time to think about it. I was billions of dollars in debt, but I also had billions of dollars in assets as well. Nevertheless, at one point the debt was 900 million dollars more than the assets, in my opinion. At least! But I was able to come back to a point where my company was much bigger and much stronger than it ever was in the ‘80s. So, I’m happy about that. The one thing I learned from that whole experience is that if and when that happens, you better be prepared to work your ass off or you’re in big trouble.
We all have flaws. What would you like to change about yourself?
(Long pause) The business thing seems to be easy for me. The social thing would be nice if I could get that right. But it’s very tough when I’m with somebody to be able to focus like many other people. Many people are able to focus on a relationship. But my business is so all encompassing and big that it’s very tough. So focusing on relationships is very tough for me. I would really like to get the relationship thing perfect, just like I have my business.
Is it impossible for you to give time to those close to you and still run this empire of yours?
It’s very tough for anybody who is with me. The business aspect of my life is so all encompassing that it’s very unfair to those around me. Yes, there are certain benefits, but overall it’s really very unfair.
Does that cause you guilt?
No. I don’t feel guilt.
Because there are many compensating assets that go along with being in my life. So no, I don’t feel guilt.
The price of a modest apartment in Manhattan is off the charts. A one-bedroom in the right zip code can cost you a million dollars. Has it become impossible for anyone but the rich to live in Manhattan?
No, I think this is a better time than ever for everyone to go out and make money. There are so many different ways to make money. There are so many new things happening and so many new ideas being developed. I think this is a great time to make money and live the American dream. Nothing is impossible. It’s a great time to make money and become rich and buy a beautiful apartment in Manhattan. It’s a great time for ideas and imagination. Probably better than any time in our history.
Are you satisfied with the final plans for what will replace the World Trade Center?
I’m not in love with the design, but something has to go up to show that these things can’t happen. So therefore I’m glad something is happening. But I’m certainly not in love with the design.
What would you prefer?
I haven’t stepped in because they have a very wonderful developer by the name of Larry Silverstein who’s working on it and he’s going to make it all happen. He doesn’t stop, and he’s a friend of mine. Larry will make it happen, and as far as the design is concerned, I think Larry has already made it much better than it was. He was given parameters that were pretty tough to be given, but despite that, Larry will make it a successful project because he’s a winner.
Finally, money can make life easier, but the one thing it can’t do is prevent the end that awaits us all, death. As you get older, do you fear dying?
I hate aging! There’s nothing good about it. But there’s nothing any of us can do. But I really do hate it. For those people who say you gain experience, or you gain this or you gain that … let me tell you. In my opinion, there’s nothing good about aging.
And all the money in the world can’t stop the final outcome.
Money can’t stop it, money can’t do anything about it. You become X years old and you know what the statistics are and every year you get a year closer. There’s nothing you can do about it. So the best thing to do is just stay busy and try not to think about it because you’re better off.
And hope that it’s not brought up during interviews.
Right! Thanks for reminding me!