Trump and Berlusconi are similar: Professor

Anmar Frangoul | Special to CNBC.com
Predicting Donald Trump presidential bid
Predicting Donald Trump presidential bid

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi share similar characteristics, according to an academic from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Four years ago, Luigi Zingales wrote that the U.S. could well see a presidential bid from a figure such as Trump.

"My book was analysing the economic situation in the United States, and my conclusion was that a populist was inevitable, and the question is 'which kind of populist?'" he told CNBC at the Ambrosetti Workshop in Italy.

"Being Italian, I'd seen the 'Berlusconi populist', and there is a remarkable set of similarities between Berlusconi and Trump, that by now everybody has noticed," he added.

"But I think I was the first one to notice, not because I'm smart, simply because I'm Italian, I'd seen them, and it was pretty clear."

Zingales went on to say that Trump and Berlusconi were "both phenomenal salesmen."

Looking forward, Zingales said that Trump's recent setback in Wisconsin – he lost the GOP primary there earlier this week – increased the probability of a brokered convention in Ohio this summer.

Trump's rise could also force the Republican Party into inventing a new platform for itself, Zingales said.

"The platform of the Republican Party is still the Ronald Reagan platform: it was great thirty something years ago, it doesn't work today," he said.