In the annals of the business world, very few people have worked their plan in the eye of the public the way "The Donald" has. He has handled his business, as well as personal life, in front of the media. It has been said that he likes publicity more than money itself. He loves it. Other than beautiful women, his only vice is his addiction to seeing his name in print or on television. It is a major reason for his success, as well as his problems.
A brief history of the man will give insight as to what makes him tick. Donald John Trump, born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York, the fourth of five children of Frederick C. and Mary M. Trump.
Donald’s parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at age 13, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy and assertiveness in a positive manner. Trump did well at the academy, both socially and academically and graduated in 1964. After attending New York Military Academy, he was accepted into and graduated from the Wharton School of Finance in 1968.
He began working alongside his father, a millionaire property developer in Queens, New York. The position was handling an apartment building his father had bought out of foreclosure in Cincinnati, Ohio. Donald had a ripening disregard for the non-affluent and it festered during this period. As would most, he disliked having to chase tenants down for rent on a monthly basis. He turned the property around and took it from nearly empty to full, but it wasn't his cup of tea.
His cup was fine china found in the finest addresses in Manhattan. In essence he had his fill of the boroughs and wanted to get into the limelight of the "Big Apple." His father, however, had taught him a great lesson: that of acquiring real estate with no money down. This would later become not only his greatest asset, but also the root of his downfall.
Donald came back to New York in 1973 and set up the Trump Organization (which technically had no legal documentation at the time), and proceeded to build his empire. The following year he made his first two major acquisitions. After the demise of the Penn Central Railroad, he took options on two of their Hudson River sites. For no money down, he controlled parcels on 34th St. and 59th St., both on the Hudson River. Without any cash outlay, he convinced the City to finance the construction of what is now the Jacob Javits Convention Center. For his efforts, Trump received $800,000, but more important to him was the large amount of publicity he earned as a result.
This was the stepping stone into the mainstream of New York real estate. His next major project was the Grand Hyatt Hotel built directly above Grand Central Station. Without his being an investor, and with the Equitable and a New York Bank financing the operation, Trump walked away with a forty-nine percent share of the 1,000+ room hotel.
Now he had arrived, and whenever he was involved in a project, major financial institutions were literally throwing money into it. Such was the case of Trump Tower, an upscale combined use facility occupying one of the best addresses in Manhattan. He managed to get it built under tax abatement for "moderate income housing." Anyone who has ever been in Trump Tower quickly realizes that this is not housing for anyone but the very wealthy. The point is he got it done and the press surrounding it was greater than any edifice in the New York skyline.
By now, the Trump name was magic and the press loved him. He was everywhere. Even his toys were second to none. Khashoggi's yacht, the Plaza Hotel (a favorite of his - and why not?), Margo Vista (his estate in Palm Beach) and the Trump shuttle were just some of his conquests. The more he did, the more press he got the more press he got, the more he did.
Outside of his personal life, it appeared to all onlookers that he had the "Midas Touch." Then he did what he himself may have been highly critical of; he went to New Jersey. His initial foray into the "Garden State" was a joint venture with Holiday Inn to build the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, once again using OPM (Other People's Money). The "Donald" liked the glitz of gambling in South Jersey as well as the players. He went head to head with Merv Griffin and his Resorts International. All the big boys were there. The only change was that he was spending his own money now and his perspective changed. He acquired the then unfinished Taj Mahal, and in his quest to make it the finest hotel casino in the world, overspent vastly, and in the end, ate up the profits from his other casinos and defaulted to his bondholders.
People finally began to look at his balance sheet, and found nothing but unserviceable debt which drained all of his cash flow. The vultures were soon beating a path to his door. In the early nineties, bankruptcies became reality. However, in each television or print interview, the common thread was that he was going to be back.
He emerged more focused than ever to make his gaming business a success and to make good on all his debts. Trump himself admitted in a recent interview that, “I've made every mistake possible in the gaming business." Many others have made the same mistakes and have not been able to stave off the wolves as he has. A major reason is that he never shunned the press. Even when they were not his ally, he always faced them, and tried to put the best possible spin on the situation.
"The Donald" is now back home in Manhattan, he has become an iconic figure. He has made himself instantly recognizable. In summary, whether you love him or hate him, we all envy him and his glamorous, roller coaster lifestyle. Barring any unforeseen twists he will be around and bigger and better than ever. Just a word of reminder, “There's no such thing as bad press."