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The Multitasker

All this makes Trump seem like a man juggling a hundred balls in the air at once—and loving every minute of it. At times, he complained that he was overscheduled, that the excessive demands on him kept him on the go far too much. "I've been out 23 nights in a row," he said with some exasperation one October evening in 2004, knowing full well that he could have said no to most, if not all, of the events that required his presence; deep down, he seemed to relish the attention and loved the frenetic pace of his life.

That fall, he was building nine buildings and two golf courses.

He was also laboring to breathe new life into his three Atlantic City casino hotels, trying to ease the financial burden on the casino hotel corporation, which faced a debt payment of $1.3 billion by 2006. Although newspaper accounts gave the impression that once again Trump faced financial trouble, he exuded supreme confidence that he was about to conclude "one of the most amazing deals I've ever done."

He was shooting the third season of The Apprentice, appearing in often-daily photo shoots, sometimes in his office at Trump Tower or on the building's roof. He knew that if ratings for the show dropped, his thus far brief adventure in television would end abruptly. He clearly did not want that to happen, finding the whole medium quite "infectious." Already he has agreed to produce a new television series called Trump Tower, a Dynasty-like soap opera with an actor playing the Donald Trump character ("I want someone very good looking," he volunteered, exhibiting the telltale signs of making a joke.)

From behind his desk, he conducts phone interviews with overseas media, targeting countries where The Apprentice opens in the next few months. Shocked and thrilled that he has become a household name in the United States, he now wants to seize the international stage.

He is getting ready to launch his third book of the year, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life. He has no qualms coming out with so many books in one year, normally taboo in publishing. He argues that the publishers come to him and offer him tons of money. How can he refuse? He is, according to his publisher, Random House, the greatest-selling business author ever; senior executives at the publishing house want Trump to write yet another book. He confesses that he's not sure he has much more to say, but he also admits that he probably will accede to the request. He tells his co-author, Meredith McIver, to start taking notes for yet another book project.

He is putting the finishing touches on his plan to build a Trump Tower in Las Vegas. He has tried to gain a toehold in the gambling mecca for years, but this is his first actual project. He loves the idea of erecting a deluxe condo on the famous Las Vegas strip, but he is wincing at all those New York–Las Vegas trips he will need to make on his 727 jet. Though he flies often in his helicopter and jet plane, he professes no great love of flying. He is a superbillionaire, but he is no jet-setter. He prefers sitting behind his desk, juggling all those balls in the air.

If he has a hobby or an indulgence, it is the game of golf. A three- to five-handicap golfer, he loves playing 18 holes at one of his golf courses, mixing business with pleasure, keeping a watchful eye out for fallen trees and overgrown grass even as he laces into that tiny white object.

Occasionally, he enters a specially designed "studio" at Trump Tower to star in a television commercial, for which he is paid millions of dollars. Though he is a multibillionaire, he relishes the millions of dollars he earns for these commercials, often referencing his father, Fred Trump, who felt that anyone would be crazy to pass up such money. When an unfriendly reporter asked Donald Trump why he alone among the fraternity of American billionaires did television commercials, Trump replied that he did them because he was asked to do them—and they paid a great deal of money. What he didn't say, because he didn't want to say it in public, was that most of those in that exclusive fraternity would not be asked!

To accommodate the seemingly endless demands on his time, Trump has designed a number of board rooms within Trump Tower so that he is only an elevator ride away from the necessary backdrop for the requested events. He is, he proudly proclaims, the most efficient person he knows or knows of. He is efficient because, being Donald Trump, he can command that anyone who wants his involvement has to show up at Trump Tower.

Meeting with a writer one morning, he says he must interrupt the conversation, but only for 15 minutes so he can meet with people seeking his approval to sell a Trump Pillow (he approves). He asks the writer to wait outside his office. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, he emerges from his office, introduces the Trump Pillow people to the writer, and resumes the interview.

By the end of the morning, Donald Trump might well have spoken to 50 people either on the telephone or in person. To each one, he seems on cloud nine because, as he tells each one, he has the number one show on television. "Have you seen my ratings?" he asks, ready to produce an article on a second's notice to read to the phone caller or office guest.

Nothing seems to faze him.

Only media attacks against him, perceived or real, big or small, bother Trump. But there are fewer such assaults today than in the past, he happily reports, and if in the past he had trouble containing his anger, he is now able to move on and cool off after a day or two. He knows now that such attacks do not hurt his business; indeed, by adding to his notoriety, they probably broaden his fame and, as perverse as he finds it, sell more apartments.

But, knowing that even bad publicity might help him in business, he is still a perfectionist; he still wants complete control over his image, so he scrutinizes the media for unfriendly comments the way a young woman might look for new blemishes on her face. He wants no blemishes.

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