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This chapter is from the book

A Unique Figure

It is Trump's unabashed willingness to be so public a figure that makes him unique on the business landscape.

Cautious, even mistrustful of the media, other business leaders openly worry that merely granting an interview might arouse jealousy among colleagues. They wince when magazines put their faces on covers. They eschew television. Despite the marketing power inherent in such major media outlets, these leaders think it best to keep low profiles. Even as these people made the magazine lists of the most powerful and most influential, few know their names outside of the business world. When Fortune magazine published its "Power 25: The Most Powerful People in Business" on August 9, 2004, the top 10 were, in order of importance, Lee Scott, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Immelt, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Dell, Chuck Prince, Ned and Abby Johnson, Sam Palmisano, and Hank Greenberg. Were any of them to walk down the street, few would recognize them, with the possible exception of Gates.

Donald Trump did not make that list. But when he walked up Fifth Avenue nine days after the Fortune list appeared, nearly every passerby recognized him. And he had labored hard to attain such a status.

It was no accident that before he embarked on his business career, he toyed with the idea of entering the film world, dreaming of becoming a Hollywood mogul. He abandoned that dream, but he could not stop being a promoter, a marketer, an entertainer. To understand how Donald Trump functions in business, one should think of him not necessarily as an entertainer, but rather as someone with the skills of an entertainer. Neither he nor some of those who work with him on The Apprentice like to hear him described as an actor, perhaps because to do so might appear to denigrate his business acumen. Yet he certainly employs the same skills of an entertainer—especially an actor—and he gets very far with those skills.

In promoting his products—his real estate and his casinos—he has as much stage presence and as much self-confidence in front of an audience as many actors in Hollywood. In working out the details of a negotiation, he acts out the role of victim ("Hey, your price is way too high") with skills that seem to be honed in some acting school. He is not at all embarrassed to be called a showman; after all, as he has commented often, he enjoys injecting show business into the real-estate world.

In his own phrase, Donald Trump was "hot" and he did not want to let it go. He was certainly the hottest new star on television, and he got a great kick out of comments that he was helping NBC in the same way that the cast of Friends had lifted the network. The surge to the top made him no less immodest: He eagerly told friends that they (the cast of Friends) are six people, while he was one person: "They are on for 30 minutes; I'm on for an hour." He relished it when Jeff Zucker, the president of the NBC Universal Television Group, joked in front of thousands attending an NBC publicity gathering that Jennifer Anniston might have better hair than Donald Trump, but he was getting higher ratings.

Oh, how he was enjoying the stardom. When Harvey Weinstein, whom Donald Trump referred to as the biggest producer in Hollywood, told him he was the largest star in Weinstein's town and no one else was even close, Trump repeated the comment to his closest 1,000 friends. He was a true entertainer now, so a little harmless hyperbole would not hurt, he was sure, so rather than note accurately that he was the biggest star of reality television, he took a slight liberty and described himself as the biggest star on television. No one questioned that statement. There seemed little purpose—he was soaring through the heavens, and he loved the altitude.

If anyone required proof that Donald Trump during that summer and fall of 2004 had attained a degree of acceptance and popularity that was, even for him, beyond his wildest dreams, there he was, seated behind his desk suddenly reaching for a copy of the Palm Beach Post. He opened the newspaper to a full-page article on him and The Apprentice, and then proudly proclaimed that he had made "the bible," as Palm Beach royalty call it. Here was another moment for him to savor: "Now what do you think of all the bluebloods of Palm Beach when they see this (article)? They get sick to their stomachs. They say, 'I can't fuckin' believe this.'"

It was Donald Trump's colorful way of saying, "I made it. I finally made it."

This was Donald Trump in 2004, conscious of how close he had come to the edge of financial disaster in the early 1990s, vowing that he would never let that recur, and thrilled at becoming a superstar.

How had all this happened?

How had so many facets of American society—the business world, the media, the world of society, the entertainment world, and, last but not least, the world of young people—after marginalizing Donald Trump for so long, now have turned him into a household word?

How had Donald Trump gone from that neophyte real-estate guy hoping to make a big splash in Manhattan real-estate to one of the most famous people in the country?

How had he gone from the mainstream media's gossip columns and the tabloids' front pages to nearly iconic status, author of the most famous two-word phase in the America of 2004 ("You're fired")?

Finally, why are so many people from all slices of life—young and old, rich and poor—interested in this man?

This book deals with these questions.

The first part of this book looks at the way Donald Trump works and what he is like personally.

The second part covers his childhood years and his early forays into real estate in Manhattan.

The third part focuses on his conquest of the Atlantic City world, his subsequent fall, and his comeback.

The fourth part takes a careful look at how he employed his skills in promotion and marketing and public relations to burnish his image.

The final chapters examine in some depth Donald Trump's achievement of household name status through The Apprentice and his willingness to exploit his new status by embarking on a whole new set of media-oriented initiatives aimed at keeping his name before the public.

We begin with a behind-the-scenes look at the way Donald Trump works.

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