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I Am American Business

Donald Trump

Producer Notes

Everything about the Trump Organization says, "first class." And that philosophy manifests itself through every facet of the organization - from facilities to catering to the front office. Donald J. Trump is a man who knows what he wants and surrounds himself with a team of experts who make sure the rest of the world "gets it." Perhaps the most revealing comment he made was his answer to the question, "do you have a motto?" His response: "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die, so you might as well have a good time." As an author, real estate magnate, TV star, TV producer, clothing designer, hotelier, amateur golfer and... you get the idea - clearly he's biding his time building a legacy that will outlast many generations to come - and loving every minute of it.

Video Interview

I Love Making Deals
Think Big
Without Vision, Nothing of Consequence Will Happen
Hosting SNL
Trump: The Next Generation

The "I Am" Q&A

What kind of car do you drive?
Lots of cars.

What is your favorite place to go?
Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.

What was your worst moment in business?
The early ‘90s when the real estate markets absolutely crashed.

What is your favorite drink?
Diet Coke. Diet Pepsi. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life which I’m very happy about and very proud of, but I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life. Soda of any kind.

What is your favorite food?
Steak. Pasta.

What is your idea of fun?
Sex.

And at work?
Well, I like deal making. I would say deal making is great, but I also like management, so often you see people that make deals but they don't manage. I like management also.

What personal weaknesses do you forgive in someone?
People have so many weaknesses, you almost have to forgive many if you’re going to give them a second chance.

What movie star do you like?
Jack Nicholson.

Who was a business hero of yours?
Great guy Jack Welch.

What personal qualities do you admire in business?
A person who never gives up ever.

And what personal qualities do you admire in life?
A person who can be faithful to another person.

What was your greatest moment in business?
I’ve had many great moments in business and honestly, I can’t say there was any one, but I’ve had many, many great moments.

And in life?
My children.

What is your dream?
Just to keep it going just the way it is. I’m happy, I’m having a good time, I’m doing things that are exciting. I have a wonderful family. Just keep it going the way it is.

Do you have a motto?
Well, sadly, life is what you do while you’re waiting to die, so you might as well have a good time. We’re all just waiting to die, no matter how old, no matter how young, the fact is, life is what you do while you’re waiting to die, so have a good time.

And what is your present state of mind?
Well, I’m very intrigued by what’s going on with the economy. Of the world. It’s absolutely interesting. If you’re somebody like me who loves business, is intelligent, has imagination, there’s never been a time like this ever. What’s happening now is amazing and it just keeps you going.

Transcript

CNBC:
How has this global downturn effected the Trump Organization? How has it changed the way you’re doing business?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well we’ve been very lucky at the Trump Organization because most of my buildings have been completed for a period of about two years, so the big jobs have been completed. In addition, I sold a house that I bought, I bought it out of a bankruptcy auction and sold it for a tremendous price, I think the highest price ever in this country. , in Palm Beach, Florida, got almost a hundred million dollars for a house, and we did lots of other great things including signing a lot of tenants and that also includes Gucci at Trump Tower, and that was done a year ago. So, we’re really in great shape. We’re buyers, we have a lot of cash, we are looking for the right deals. Unfortunately, the right deal now, you make it today, and three months later it’s not a good deal because the market’s gone down so badly, but we are absolute buyers. We’re buying something fantastic in Washington DC, we’re buying something that’s going to be amazing if I get it in another location, and we’re looking to buy things and we’re actively seeking.

CNBC:
The Treasury secretary said today, “We’re (the government) trying to do things to help bring private capitol in and now we’re hoping to evolve this complicated problem and try to figure out how to get the value of these things right. We provide substantial financing which is something only the government can do now. We can help that in this way that’s gonna help detect the tax payer and provide maximum benefit.” What is your feeling about the government becoming the only entity that can provide capital again?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well it’s very sad that the government has to get involved to this extent, because we’re supposed to be a company of free enterprise, and this no longer feels like free enterprise. This is a real hodge podge, and when you look at the government coming in and willing to give, literally, trillions, because that’s what it’s going to turn out to be, trillions of dollars to people on the basis that they’re gonna make a better deal than the government’s going to make, which by the way I agree with, that’s the one aspect of it I do agree with. But something had to be done. I was here six months ago and saw panic in the streets. The banks would have all been gone, every bank would have been gone if they didn’t infuse the banks. But the biggest problem you have right now is the banks are not loaning money under any circumstances. You can be the most prime, you can be whatever it is you could be, the richest, the best, have the best assets, and you go in for ten cents, the banks aren’t gonna give it to you, so with all of the money that’s being given to the banks, thus far, at least, they don't loan it, and that’s not the way the game is supposed to be played. The game is not being played fairly by the banks.

CNBC:
And why is that? Why are they holding back?

DONALD TRUMP:
I think the banks are really trying to show up their balance sheets. I mean, they’ve made some horrendous deals over the years and probably some deals that nobody would have made, and they made them maybe for commissions, I know for a fact that I do business with banks that were more interested in the amount of money they were loaning. They didn’t care about anything, all the wanted to know, because they got commissions. You know, in the old days, you got a salary and you made loans as a banker. I mean, some of these bankers, the money they were making on loans, it didn’t matter if it was a good loan or a bad loan, and they took the money up front long before people found out whether or not it was a good loan. So the banks should be ashamed of themselves, the banks have hurt a lot of people, and this whole thing with syndication. The worst is you’ll get one loan, you make a loan with a bank, and then they go out and syndicate it to two hundred banks or two hundred other institutions, and in some cases, not even institutions. And now when you have to put all the pieces back together again, you need two hundred consents, it’s ridiculous. So the banks have really hurt, I mean, over the years they’ve been great, but over the last few years, they’ve been absolutely terrible in many cases. The good banks and to use a bad quote, your bad banks. But over the last number of years, things have really gone awry.

CNBC:
Your deal making skills seem to be exactly what the country needs right now. Has President Obama reached out to you at all? If he would, what would you tell him?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well I have great respect for President Obama. I think that he sets the right tone, he’s an intelligent guy, it’s about time we have an intelligent guy in that office. He’s an intelligent guy, you look at him, he knows. The one problem we have is no matter how smart, there’s a certain amount of trial and error. It’s never been done before, it’s never been attempted before. What they’re trying to do now is breaking new ground, [14:22:02:18] so there’s a lot of trial and error, and we’ll see what happens. Honestly, it sounds good. People think it’s good. You can go to me, you can go to great businessmen, they think it’s good, or some think it’s not good. I mean, there are a lot of people that say we should do nothing. I don't agree with that cause I think every bank would be out of business, there would be a run on every single bank from the best bank to the worst bank, so I think you have to at least do something with the banks to show up the banks, but I also think the banks should pay a penalty what’s happening, and at least the banks should be loaning out the money that they’re taking in by the hundreds of billions from the government.

CNBC:
You have said in the past that “sometimes bluntness is necessary to make a point that isn’t being heard.” What point do you think the American people need to hear?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well sometimes you have to be blunt to really make the point, and in this case, I think the President’s being very blunt. He’s talking about catastrophe, he’s talking about, he’s using words, frankly, that haven’t been used before in describing a situation, and he’s right. Now, you could say he’s overselling for a reason, or maybe that’s just the way it is. I mean, we would have had a catastrophe if certain things didn’t take place six or seven months ago, we would have had an absolute financial panic, we almost had it anyway. And everybody that’s really knowledgeable about Wall Street, they said there was panic in the air, so I think he’s doing right overselling as opposed to underselling the problem.

CNBC:
You have said that, “without vision, nothing of consequence will happen.” How do you apply that philosophy to what’s going on today in terms of America’s future?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well I’ve written in a number of books that without vision, nothing of consequence will happen, and I’ve said it very strongly, and this is a time when we need great vision and correct vision, and I’ve often said that I think that Obama, hopefully, will be a great president because if he’s not a great president, if he’s just a good president, we’re in big trouble. This country really needs help. We’re fighting wars all over the world, nobody else is helping us, or for the most part, they’re not helping. We’re taking on the burden of Afghanistan, we’re taking on the burden of Iraq, we’re taking on other burdens. I mean, at what point does this country say, “Hey, we are not big enough to police the world, to be the policemen for the world”, and we really need help from others, or we just can’t do it ourselves. We’re not that rich a country anymore, it’s very sad. The money has been squandered. The money has been thrown away. You look at what’s happening with OPEC, OPEC is one of my big pet peeves. You have this small group of nations, and, and the biggest problem is when the economy gets fixed, OPEC will just raise the price of oil again. Now, it’s forty dollars a barrel. If you would have said five years ago, forty dollars a barrel, people would have been amazed at how high it is, but it’s forty dollars a barrel. It may go up, it may go down, but ultimately, when the economy gets fixed, they’ll sit in a room, normally that would be what you’d call an illegal monopoly, they’ll sit in a room and they’ll raise the price of oil, cause I happen to think that the hundred and fifty dollars a barrel of oil has really got, is what got the world started into oblivion or almost oblivion, and somebody has to speak with OPEC in a very strong manner. Because if you look, interest rates go down, oil goes up. Interest rates go up, then they lower it a little bit. They have pretty good control over that, and supply and demand is wonderful, but they have really an illegal situation as far as I’m concerned. The economy can never be fixed if you don't do something about our blood. And you know what our blood is, it’s oil. The economy will never be fixed if somebody doesn’t do something about OPEC and these guys that sit around a round table and they just set the price of oil, because as soon as the, the money starts coming in, and as soon as you start thinking in terms of reducing taxes and all the other good things, OPEC is just gonna raise the price of oil, and take the heart right out of you.

CNBC:
Are we in that serious a climate where this vision is necessary to help us come away with from this very bad situation?

DONALD TRUMP:
The United States has not had a problem like this since 1929, the stock market crash, the Great Depression. And frankly, if certain things don't happen right, you’ll have another Depression. And certainly, in certain industries, if you look at retailing and various industries, you have a depression right now. When you look at houses that are selling for a tiny fraction of what they were, out in the Midwest, and different, good developers, nice people, they try hard, but the fact is, you have a Depression in certain industries right now. But, if things don't go right and if the vision of our leaders, which is our Secretary of the Treasury and our President and lots of other good people, well meaning people, but if their vision isn’t right, this country has some really big problems.

CNBC:
The Trump Organization and “thinking big.” It’s the title of your book, Think Big. When did you first really understand that that’s what drives you; that it’s not just about making a deal, but it’s about taking a deal and making it a big deal?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well I love making deals, but I think I love them for the end product. Many of my friends are in other businesses. My primary business is real estate, although The Apprentice happens to do very well. But my primary business is real estate. I love the creation of a beautiful building. I love creating something great. I don't mind taking over something that’s a failure, fixing it, and making it great, but usually, I get too much credit for promotional ability, cause I don't think I’m a good promoter at all, and I get not enough credit for my ability to build and to fix things. I build great buildings whether it’s Trump Tower or so many other buildings that I’ve built, and I do have a tendency to get good location, you know, location’s an art, believe it or not. And I’ve never even heard that said, but it just seems that there are a certain group of people that always seem to end up with the best locations, well, I think I’m at the top of that list. But having the right location, building the great building, getting it done on time, on budget, et cetera, et cetera, I have an ability at that. It then becomes successful and people say, “Oh, you did a great job with promotion”, but it has nothing to do with promotion. I build great buildings and I’m very happy to be doing it.

CNBC:
“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” It’s part of everything you do. You’re basically telling people that: This is a good thing.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well I wrote in my first book called The Art of the Deal that you have to think anyway, you might as well think big, and that became the largest business seller of all time. I don't believe there’s ever been a book on business that sold like that. It was number one in the New York Times list and every other list for months and months and months. Almost a full year. And that was always a great honor to me, but it was just more common sense than anything else. And I expressed it as common sense. Now, I see people who want to do one little house, then I see people that want to do ten houses, and I see people wanting to do thousands of houses. Now this isn’t a good time to be talking about houses, but the fact is, if you’re going to think, and if you’re going to be doing something, do it big. In a certain way, it’s better with the banks. In a certain way, it’s better with buyers, you can make it more dramatic better, but I’ve always been a believer in doing things in a big manner. It doesn’t always work and it doesn’t work for everybody,and it can’t work for everybody, cause not everybody can do the big job because there would be nobody left to do the little job, but for me, I like thinking big.

CNBC:
How do you infuse that philosophy into your organization?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I lead my organization. And I think I’ve led them well over the years, and I do give them my philosophies, whether it’s thinking big or thinking quality. I believe in quality. I believe you give a quality product. I have so many people that buy in a building, they love it, and then they’ll buy in another building in a totally different jurisdiction, a totally different area they weren’t even thinking about buying, but they just want to buy a Trump product, and they’ll buy, and they won’t really even look at it. They won’t see it. I’ve had people buy units in my buildings and they didn’t see them for three years after the building was built. They have confidence with me, they have confidence that I have the right location, they have confidence that I’m gonna build a great product, and they have just confidence in me, and that’s always a great honor and ultimately, that really becomes self fulfilling. You get groups of people, I have groups of people that literally follow me no matter where I go, they want to buy my product.

CNBC:
That is the essence of building a brand, right?

DONALD TRUMP:
Building a brand is very interesting. You need time, you need quality, you need success. You want to do something that’s special, and people start following. And when they start following, you’ve built yourself a brand. Not easy, and it takes awhile, but there’s nothing like it.

CNBC:
“Passion helps make the magic happen.” Tell me about that.

DONALD TRUMP:
I’ve seen so many people over the years that are very smart, but they don't have passion. They just don't have that feeling of passion. The enthusiasm, any word you want to use. If you don't have that, it’s never, ever going to work, and usually there’s a reason you don't have it. That’s cause you don't believe in yourself, you don't believe in your product. But having enthusiasm, having passion is very, very important for success. I’ve never seen somebody that’s successful that wasn’t, like, enthusiastic about what he or she did. You need that enthusiasm, you need that passion, that drive. It makes life fun, and you just do better.

CNBC:
Your book, The America We Deserve, tell me about how you think the American Dream my become history.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I wrote one book on politics. And to be honest with you, all of my business books sell like crazy, my book on politics did very well but it didn’t do like the business books. But I made a lot of predictions in that book including, I hate to use the word, “depression”, including lots of different things with respect to terrorism, and the book was written quite a while ago, and if you think in terms of prognostication, that book was right on. People pick it up today, they say, “I can’t believe it, you predicted so many of these things.” The world is in for a rough period of time. I’m not only talking about from a business standpoint, from an economy or an economic standpoint, but you have the hidden enemy, you have enemies out there that, you know, in the old days, you had a war with a nation, so you’re going to war with Germany, you’re going to war with Japan. Now, you’re going to war, but you don't know who you’re at war with. It’s actually much more difficult. We really have to be smart, we really have to be cunning, we have to use our best, our brightest, otherwise, we will be eaten from within. Not a good situation.

CNBC:
How is, “thinking big” going to help keep the American Dream a reality?

DONALD TRUMP:
In order to keep the American Dream a reality, we have to think smart, we have to think big, we have to look at the big picture, you know, if we’re just gonna focus on one little aspect, it’s not gonna work, so in order to keep the great American Dream and the great American Dream going, we have to be able to think big, but maybe even more importantly, we have to think smart.

CNBC:
Your list of accomplishments is endless. Real estate developer, creator of the world’s best buildings, golf courses, hotels, casinos, a TV star, now a TV producer, clothing designer... What is next for you?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I’ve had a great career and hopefully I have a lot longer to go, but I’ve always said my... the thing I love the best is real estate. I love real estate. I love creating great buildings, but then all of a sudden, I got hit with number one best sellers in the books, and then the biggest thing, in a way, of all, was the fact that The Apprentice became the number one show on television. And to this day, continues fantastically well. It’s going on again very soon with Joan Rivers and Dennis Rodman and Kurt Black, the country singer, and so many others, I think it’s gonna be fantastic, but that The Apprentice became the number one show for a very substantial number of weeks and all of a sudden, I said, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m like this big television star”, so I’ve had a lot of fun with The Apprentice and to this day, it’s one of NBC’s very hot shows, maybe it’s hottest show. So we’re really having a good time with The Apprentice, but I’ve enjoyed things I’ve done. I have a tremendously successful clothing line which is sold through Macy’s and they do the ties, this is one of them, and the shirts, this is one of them, and suits and everything else. And it’s really been... cufflinks... it’s really been a lot of fun to see things succeed. I like seeing success, I like seeing things succeed. Not everything does succeed, but you give it your best and it’s a great feeling when you have something that’s successful.

CNBC:
Could you reminisce a little bit about hosting Saturday Night Live; specifically in regards to taking risk and bringing new excitement into your life.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well one of the things that was exciting about The Apprentice was I got a call from Lorne Michaels and from Jeff Zucker who are terrific people, they wanted to see me, and I said, “I wonder what they want to see me about.” And they asked me to host Saturday Night Live, and I did it, and that’s taking risk because, you know, I’m not a standup comedian, and here, there you have to be a standup comedian. And we had a great night, it was a really successful night, got tremendous ratings for NBC and I really had a good time hosting Saturday Night Live. That was, that was a part of The Apprentice and the reason I guess they asked me to do it was because of the great success of The Apprentice, but it was a little bit risky, it was a little bit on the edge, but I had a good time doing it.

CNBC:
You were thinking, “what have I gotten myself into?” But it turned out to be really great.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I have a little story that I tell, Lorne Michaels when he met me at the stage of Saturday Night Live, I said to him, “You know, Lorne, it won’t always be like this. Someday NBC will call me and say the ratings aren’t good for The Apprentice and I won’t be doing The Apprentice anymore.” He said, “No, Donald, you’re wrong about one thing. They won’t even call.” And I said, “That’s a very interesting statement”, and then I realized it was probably true. It’s a little bit in the world, “What have you done for me lately?” Everybody kisses your ass when you’re hot, if you’re not hot, they don't even call. So, it’s always good to stay hot.

CNBC:
I love how you say, “people kissing your ass...” Your candor. Does your candor, get you into a little bit of trouble?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well I think the candor that I have does get me into a little bit of trouble, but I also believe it’s why I get high ratings and other people don't. When Larry King says, “Please be on my show cause you get my highest ratings”, and things like that and plenty of others say the same thing, I think it’s because I’m honest. I don't even think it’s candor, I think it’s honesty. I’m a very honest person, and I speak the way I think, I went to the best schools, I did very well at those schools, and I just have figured that over a period of time, honesty is the best policy, and a lot of people say, “Oh, your candor, you’re so out there.” It’s not a question of candor, I’m just saying the truth. But often times, I’ll say things that other people won’t say or don't want to say, or just can’t say, and it’s honesty and people, I think, like it.

CNBC:
How important is philanthropy? For people in positions of leadership?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I give a lot of money away to different charities, and I help charities. In Palm Beach, I have a place called the Mar-a-lago Club, and I believe there is more money in that club for charity than any other place in Florida. I mean, the place has been amazing, the kind of money we raise on a weekly basis, and I just believe that you have to give back and if you don't give back, you’re not being honest with yourself. If you’re in this country making a lot of money, you have to give back. You have an obligation.

CNBC:
Do you feel that you get enough credit for making things better? Like, when you go into an area and you fix the building and then you sell it, the Trump name is there, it’s made the neighborhood better. Do you think you get enough credit for that?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I think I’ve gotten a lot of credit for the job I’ve done and certainly, I’m a very well known person, to put it mildly, sometimes I’m too well known. I think that when you are doing something really well and you start getting recognition, the press will start hitting you and they hit you hard. It’s almost, they want to tear you down, and then, by the way, often times they want to build you back up again. But they have fun tearing you down. I probably only get more press than almost anybody and I don't say I enjoy it. It just, it’s always been that way. It’s sort of interesting. It’s been that way from the time I was very young, I graduated from the Wharton School of Finance, and I came into business, I got like, a lot of press. And I don't think I seek it, a lot of people think I do, but I don't. I don't even really have PR agents, unless it’s for a specific individual job where I’m gonna do an opening and you sort of have to have somebody, but I’ve always gotten a disproportionate pile of press, always, and I think I know the reasons why, I won’t say why necessarily, but the press covers me, , really well. Now, that’s a mixed blessing because they cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. If something good, they cover it, and not always favorably, even though it should be covered favorably. So I don't mind bad press if it’s true. I hate bad press when they’re lying and knowing lying. And, and I say that quite a bit. They give you bad press and they know it’s wrong. They know what they’re writing or what they’re doing is wrong. However, if I deserve bad press, I’m a man, I take it like a man, I think it’s fine, but I don't like it and I don't think it’s fair when they give it to you when you don't deserve it. I’ve had cases where I’ve done a great job on something and they try and write it, it can’t be totally negative, but they try and write it with as negative a spin as possible. That’s really dishonest reporting.

CNBC:
Your children are launching very successful business careers. You made sure that they were prepared in life, not coddled, but ready to take on business with the same attitude that you have for it. How were you able to do that? How were you able to be a dad and still be as successful as you have been?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, in many respects, I’m very lucky because I have very, very smart children. They’re doing very well, those that have come into business. I have children younger than the business age, but those that have come into business, three of them so far, and they’ve been absolutely outstanding, I could not be happier. They’re smart, they work hard, they were highly educated at the best schools, so I’m very happy with my children.

CNBC:
Do you think they understand, what the American Dream means to you?

DONALD TRUMP:
I really think my children understand the American Dream. They grew up in sort of an unusual circumstance because they were surrounded by Mar-a-lago and things such as that, but I really believe they get it, they understand entrepreneurship, and they understand the American Dream.

CNBC:
And they’re allowed to think big like their dad.

DONALD TRUMP:
And they better think big.

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