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No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump

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Overview

With The Apprentice, Donald Trump has gone beyond celebrity to become a true legend. He's the one billionaire everyone recognizes, the only one whose name is its own global brand. But, for all the ink that's been spilled about him, nobody's ever fully captured the man—until now.

Donald Trump agreed to give Robert Slater unprecedented access to his world: over 100 hours of private conversations and meetings. Wherever Trump went, Slater was there: as a "fly on the wall" at ...

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Overview

With The Apprentice, Donald Trump has gone beyond celebrity to become a true legend. He's the one billionaire everyone recognizes, the only one whose name is its own global brand. But, for all the ink that's been spilled about him, nobody's ever fully captured the man—until now.

Donald Trump agreed to give Robert Slater unprecedented access to his world: over 100 hours of private conversations and meetings. Wherever Trump went, Slater was there: as a "fly on the wall" at deal-making sessions, on Trump's Gulfstream...everywhere. Slater interviewed 150 of Trump's former and present employees and colleagues, even his toughest competitors.

Now, he reveals the man in full: the businessman and dealmaker, strategist and survivor, celebrity and personality. You'll learn how Trump transformed himself from an unknown local real-estate developer to a global magnate. You'll see how he really does business, discovering lessons that go far beyond anything he's revealed before. You'll witness his brilliant media management...and watch him leverage his celebrity to save his casino business, not once but twice. Most remarkable of all, you'll discover how Trump really feels about his celebrity, his empire, his outsized American life.

  • Why there's no such thing as over-exposure

  • From celebrity to legend: larger than life—and lovin' it

  • Not just a billionaire: a global brand

  • How to build a multi-billion-dollar global business on your own name

  • One tough hombre: coming back, again and again

  • From $9.2 billion in debts to the Forbes wealthiest American list

  • A "fly on thewall": watch Trump operate, for real Trump at work: real Trump dealmaking, decision-making, and leadership

The real Donald Trump: the most revealing Trump profile ever written!

Based on an unprecedented 100 hours of private, personal access to Trump...plus over 150 interviews with associates and rivals!

The first book to capture all of Trump: executive, dealmaker, strategist, survivor, celebrity, student of the media...and the man behind the legend

Beyond the art of the deal: Trump-powered business lessons you won't find in his own books

Who is Donald Trump?

You think you know. You don't. Even if you've watched The Apprentice.

Even if you've read his best-selling books.

Want to know what really makes him tick? How he really operates?

When Donald Trump heard about the book, he threatened to sue. Then, he changed his mind...and gave Robert Slater more access than any other journalist or author—ever. Slater sat beside Trump at buy-out sessions and building inspections, on his helicopter and jet plane, at QVC and at Apprentice rehearsals. Slater watched Trump in public—and in his most unguarded moments. And Slater talked to everyone...from legendary rival Steve Wynn to publicity-shy Trump family members.

The result: the most intimate and powerful Trump profile ever written.

This, finally, is the real Trump: totally uncensored, and utterly riveting.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Business biographer Slater (The New GE, 1992, etc.) appraises bloviating billionaire Trump and finds him quite sympathetic. Slater reviews Trump's background, personality and work habits, and makes notes of forays in Atlantic City and Chicago. Mostly, though, the author sets forth Trump's reputation and fame, his skills at public relations and self-promotion, and his supposed conquest of TV in terms Trump must surely like. There's much here about "his commanding presence and his dazzle" and "the resilient, creative titan he has turned out to be." He's a "charismatic billionaire." Television's Apprentice has "the charisma and the charm and the wit of Donald Trump." This may not be an authorized or subsidized biography but, with this easy reader, The Donald will never need one. Like Mr. Peanut, he's become a brand. He's a major force in New York real estate and, perforce, a powerful negotiator. There are certainly the real achievements, though it's difficult to detect the pertinent facts in this cream puff treatment. We may applaud the omission of conjugal high jinks, but surely there's more to be said about the East Side rail yard project or the book arrangements. Slater surveys business deals, yet there's the distinct feeling of untold stories. The writer did check facts with his subject (who may have the power to cloud men's minds), but Trump has it his way, asserting, for example, that the troubled casino hotels represent less than 1 percent of the Trump net worth (they're in the throes of bankruptcy). Trump practices what he calls "truthful hyperbole," and credibility suffers in this fawning, rushed biography. Coming soon, we learn: Donald Trump, the Fragrance. (Warning: the sure-to-beubiquitous book jacket may bear a truly menacing close-up of the squinting hero). A toadying portrait of a colorful figure, already larger than life, likely to sell in record numbers to fans. To impartial readers, it'll be shallow ephemera.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641731341
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 3/3/2005
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 7.88 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: The Letter and the Phone Call.

I. FORGING AN IMAGE.

1. Have You Seen My Ratings?

2. Behind Open Doors.

II. SEIZING AN ISLAND.

3. Marching up Fifth Avenue.

4. Changing a Skyline.

III. THE VALUE OF CELEBRITY.

5. Conquering a Boardwalk.

6. Fall and Comeback.

IV. THE NURTURING OF A NAME.

7. Student of the Media.

8. Branding a Name.

V. SUDDENLY, A HOUSEHOLD NAME.

9. The Perfect Match.

10. Heightened Demand, Persistent Debt.

11. No Such Thing asOver-Exposure.

Acknowledgments.

Endnotes.

Index.

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Introduction

Preface

The Letter and the Phone Call

Be advised that Mr. Trump has instructed me to take such action... which may include, but will not be limited to, bringing an action to enjoin you from publishing and disseminating the book...."

That was the key sentence in the e-mail that I received April 8, 2004.

I had barely begun my research on a book about Donald Trump when a man named Jason D. Greenblatt, vice president and assistant general counsel of the Trump Organization, wrote me that e-mail.

I did not know Trump. Nor did I know Greenblatt. Moreover, I had not written a word of the book at that point. I had conducted a grand total of three interviews. My only contact with Trump's office had been a phone call and a follow-up e-mail, requesting to meet with Trump and/or his staff.

I thought it odd, to say the least, that a Donald Trump attorney was threatening me with a lawsuit long before the book had become a reality—odd and chilling.

The idea of writing a book about Donald Trump came to me upon hearing his name mentioned on television over and over during a 24-hour period early in 2004. Having written books on major business personalities for two decades, I had rejected Trump as a possible book subject until then, deciding that he was a minor business player. Like many others, I had concluded dismissively that he was more showman than serious business leader. Then as his hit reality television series, The Apprentice, began to attract a huge audience, and as Donald Trump became a household name, I quickly decided that he would make a great book.

Among the well-known business personalities I have written books about are Jack Welch of General Electric, Wall Street investor George Soros, mutual fund pioneer John Bogle, Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz, IBM's Lou Gerstner, Cisco Systems' John Chambers, Wal-Mart's Lee Scott, and Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Most of these business leaders agreed to be interviewed for my books on them. Only Soros and Gerstner declined. Neither Soros nor Gerstner, however, threatened to enjoin the publication of the book. George Soros passed word through an attorney that I would not be able to interview Soros or anyone who worked for him. Lou Gerstner indicated that neither he nor his fellow IBM executives would have time for interviews, but he did make his public relations staff available for fact-checking.

My routine in starting a book project on a business personality has been to seek a publisher and obtain a contract for the book first, and only then to approach the book's subject and colleagues with a request for interviews. Thus it was that, on March 23, 2004, 16 days before the e-mail arrived and 1 day after obtaining a contract for a book on Trump, I phoned the Trump Organization, requesting to visit with Trump and/or his associates to tell them about the book. Meredith McIver, who co-authored Trump's 2004 book, How to Become Rich, came on the line. When I told her that I planned to write a book on Trump, she asked me to send her an e-mail giving more details about the book and me. I did.

An Unexpected E-Mail

I wrote that I hoped I might have the chance to tell her in person about the kind of book I planned to write. "The book," I went on, "will take an in-depth look at Mr. Trump's management strategies and techniques, along with his business achievements over the years." I planned to focus the book around such questions as 1) What were Trump's definable business strategies and attitudes toward leadership and management? 2) Why did he, and not a thousand other real-estate developers, become a business celebrity? 3) Why did The Apprentice become the surprise hit reality show of the year?

I hoped that Ms. McIver would arrange for me to meet someone within the Trump senior echelons to help me get the book started. During that meeting, I planned to ask for an interview with both Donald Trump and those business colleagues closest to him.

Instead of hearing back from Ms. McIver that such a meeting would be possible, I received the e-mail from Greenblatt.

As I read the opening sentence of his April 8 e-mail, I felt a momentary sense of relief at finally getting a response to my March 23 request of cooperation. But my relief quickly became bemusement as I realized that Trump had assigned an attorney to pen the response.

Here is the e-mail in its entirety:

I am counsel to Donald J. Trump. Your email (sent on March 23, 2004) to Ms. Meredith McIver was referred to me for a response.

You are hereby advised that Mr. Trump does not authorize your proposed book, nor does he wish to contribute to the proposed book in any manner.

You indicate that the proposed book will portray an in-depth look at Mr. Trump's management strategies and techniques, along with his business achievements. Implicit in such portrayal is that you are very familiar with such strategies and techniques, many of which have been developed by Mr. Trump and are, therefore, unique and proprietary to him. Because you have no current or former association with Mr. Trump or any of his business endeavors, it would be virtually impossible for you to write a book that purports to accurately portray Mr. Trump's management strategies and techniques. Since you cannot accurately portray Mr. Trump's management strategies and techniques, you would, of necessity, have to fictionalize such information. Therefore, we believe that this book would be prohibited under Section 51 of the New York Civil Rights Law and constitute an unauthorized exploitation of Mr. Trump's name and/or image for pur-poses of advertisement and/or trade (see, for example, Warren E. Spahn, Respondent vs. Julian Messner, Inc., et al., Appellants Court of Appeals of New York; Decided October 27, 1996).

Be advised that Mr. Trump has instructed me to take such action as may be necessary in the protection of his interests, which may include, but will not be limited to, bringing an action to enjoin you from publishing and disseminating the book, as well as seeking to recover from you and the publisher of the book any damages that Mr. Trump may sustain in connection with the book. Please note that the statutes in question expressly authorize the awarding of exemplary (punitive) damages in the event that it is determined that you knowingly violated Mr. Trump's civil rights.

I trust you will be guided accordingly. Very truly yours, Jason D. Greenblatt

I was astonished to read this letter.

It had always been my assumption that authors who wish to write a book about a public figure do not require that person' s approval—and Trump certainly qualifies as a public figure.

Accordingly, it was also my assumption that a public figure had no legal ground to enjoin the publication of a book about him or her. A public figure certainly had a right to take action against an author and/or publisher if that figure felt legally injured, but any legal action, by its very nature, had to await the publication of the book. One could not expect a court to enjoin publication over what an author might write.

I had written numerous books on public figures. Never once had any of them even hinted that they had a legal basis for preventing me from writing a book about them. Nor did I know of any other public figure who had sought to prevent an author from writing a book about that person.

I felt on very safe legal ground in proceeding with the book. Happily, my editor, Tim Moore at Financial Times Prentice Hall, agreed, as did the publisher's attorneys. During one long and pleasant lunch in New York City, Tim and I spent a total of five minutes going over the threatening e-mail. We both felt that Trump had no legal grounds that would permit him to prevent the publication of our book, and we would proceed with the book whether or not he brought suit.

My editor and I decided not to respond directly to the e-mail, and to keep it and its threat to prevent publication of the book a secret until much closer to the publication of the book. I was concerned that if at that early stage of my interviewing word got into the newspapers of Trump's legal threat against the book, people would automatically decline to be interviewed. I had been getting positive replies to my requests for interviews from many people who had known Trump at different stages of his career; I wanted my good fortune to continue.

Although I was firm in not wanting to respond to Mr. Greenblatt's e-mail, I did believe that it made sense for me, farther along in my research, to submit a list of questions that arose from my research directly to Donald Trump. I always had accorded the subjects of my books the opportunity to respond to the assertions of others. I saw every reason to act in the same manner toward Donald Trump, despite the substance of that e-mail. I felt an obligation to be fair to him, and the only way to be fair in my view was to offer him the chance to respond to my questions. Given his attorney's e-mail to me, I fully believed that he would not reply, but I planned to ask a series of questions anyway.

As I continued with the research and interviews for this book, I often asked myself: Why does Donald Trump not want me to write this book? I had not come across any evidence that he had tried to quash any other author's book on him. Why, then, was he singling out my book and me? And why was he threatening legal action at this very preliminary stage in my research?

Controlling His Image

The more I learned about Donald Trump, the more certain I was that he wanted to control his image fully by controlling as much as he could what was written about him. He was prepared to use whatever resources were available to him, especially the threat of and even the actual use of litigation. I came across newspaper articles that told of his litigious nature. Still, he must have known, I assumed, that it was nearly impossible—even via the threat of litigation—to control his image, given the amount of television and newspaper copy he had been generating.

What, I asked, was he afraid of?

Why did he believe that my book would harm his public image?

Whether I was "business-friendly" (as some book reviewers called me) or not, what legal right did Mr. Trump have to suppress my book?

Whatever his own personal motivation was for having his attorney send me that e-mail, I decided that I would do my best not to let the e-mail influence the way I wrote the book. Even if the e-mail had not been written, I would have sought to portray Donald Trump fairly, objectively, and honestly; I intended to do the same, despite the e-mail. I knew it would be a challenge. It was already having some effect. For instance, I had never written a preface to one of my books that looked anything like this. Despite the legal cloud hanging over the project, I was determined to carry on with the book. I did not know whether Trump would go ahead with his threatened lawsuit. I could not control what he might do. But I could control how I wrote the book.

To be sure, I hoped that Trump would change his mind, withdraw the legal threat, and grant me one or more interviews for the book. Yet, although I hoped for such a change of heart, I had no illusions that he would recant. Once before in my career, a business leader had turned down my bid to interview him for my book on him; but then six weeks later, he changed his mind:

John Chambers, president and CEO of the Internet infrastructure firm Cisco Systems, eventually granted me numerous interviews for my 2003 book The Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers Steered Cisco Systems Through the Technology Collapse. Still, just because Chambers had shifted gears was no reason to assume that Donald Trump might.

I wanted Trump to remove the legal threat, not because I felt intimidated by him, but because I genuinely wanted to interview him. As both a journalist and an author, I had been trained to interview the people who loomed large in my story or book so that I could offer the best possible description and analysis of that person. It was the only way a professional writer should behave, so I was taught.

A number of weeks passed. I carried on with the project, interviewing people who had known Donald Trump at one time or another. Some declined to be interviewed or simply did not answer my requests. I assumed correctly that a certain number would accede to my request only after getting a green light from Donald Trump.

On the morning of May 18, nearly six weeks after receiving the e-mail, I wrote a draft of this preface, explaining that Trump had threatened legal action to stop this book from being published. I assumed there might well be new twists and turns in his actions toward the book, and I would simply add them to the draft at a later stage. I had no idea that the strangest twist would come only hours later.

The Phone Rings

That afternoon, my phone rang. A woman identified herself as calling from Donald Trump's office. She said he would like to talk with me. My first reaction was that he probably wanted to launch the lawsuit through this phone call. He must have been getting phone calls from people I wanted to interview, concrete evidence that I was continuing with the book despite his threat of litigation. In truth, I hardly had any time to think carefully about why he was calling. An instant later, he came on the line.

I prepared myself for some screaming, but none came.

Instead, his voice was friendly. His words came fast. He seemed pleased to be talking with me. He began by telling me that he had just spoken with Jack Welch and that Welch had told him "what an amazing guy you are." Trump sounded upbeat, positive about me, not at all like someone who was threatening a lawsuit.

He explained that indeed he had been getting calls from people whom I had wanted to interview for my book. They had asked Trump for his permission before granting the interview. At a certain point, Trump decided that he would check out my credentials. He presumably looked over the e-mail I had sent him and saw that I had written books on Jack Welch. He decided to phone Welch, fully expecting the former GE chairman and CEO to suggest that Trump steer clear of me. Instead, Welch gave me a rave review. "He said you were always fair," Donald Trump reported to me, "and if Jack Welch says that about you, that's good enough for me."

I was, of course, startled—and pleasantly surprised at this turn of events. It had always been my goal to interview Trump, and now it appeared that I would have the opportunity, though at first he said half-pleadingly that he did not have much time for interviews because The Apprentice was taking up so much of his time. Eventually, he agreed to meet me in his office at Trump Tower in New York City on the morning of June 3.

He suggested some people he thought I should interview, people whom I was sure he trusted to present him in the most favorable light. I said I would be pleased to talk with them. Trump's executive assistant, Rhona Graff, came on the line and gave me phone numbers for the people Trump wanted me to interview. All I could think of was how the world had turned.

Never in our 20-minute phone conversation did Trump mention the lawyer's letter that he had sent in early April. It was as if the e-mail had never been sent, never even existed. Nor did I mention the letter. Certainly, if he was now willing to be interviewed and to have other acquaintances interviewed for the book, his original threat to enjoin the publication of the book was, it seemed fair to conclude, off the table.

I knew that, at some point, I would want to ask him about why he had sent the lawyer's letter to me. Would he tell me that he had no idea it had been sent? Would he dismiss it as something he did routinely without any intention of actually launching a lawsuit?

What would he say? I was very eager to find out.

But I decided not to raise the subject during our first interview, eager for our first meeting to go smoothly; I was, quite frankly, concerned that the mere mention of the threatened lawsuit might add unnecessary tension between us. Only if he brought up the lawsuit would I ask him why his lawyer had sent the e-mail to me.

On June 3, we met for nearly two hours. He was, as he had been on the phone, friendly, warm, and welcoming. He made it clear almost from the beginning that he was agreeable to meeting a second time. He did not raise the threatened lawsuit, nor did I. I contented myself with knowing that I would try to raise the subject during our second meeting. He did offer hints about why he had been unwilling to meet with me at first: He didn't know my work or me.

All throughout that first session, Trump expressed the utmost respect for my book project and for me.

At one point, he asked me a series of questions about the value of his participating in my book project.

Did I, as the author, like to have the subject of a book participate in that book?

Did the subject's participation impact sales?

Did my interviewing the subject give me a better feel for the person?

Was it correct that five or six years ago (presumably, when he was less in the news than in 2004), I would not have wanted to do the book?

Was I doing a book on him now because he was "hot" (his word)?

I answered each question briefly, trying to get back as quickly as I could to interviewing him. But I appreciated the irony that our relationship had gone from his threatening to bring legal action to a rational discussion of the merits of his participating in the project—after he had agreed to participate!

The Mercurial Man

The e-mail and the subsequent telephone call serve as the best possible evidence of Donald Trump's mercurial, in-your-face manner of handling personal relationships. Unlike most of the other business leaders I have written books about, Trump is capable of launching a blistering attack against someone, only to turn warm and affectionate when such a change of behavior makes sense to him. He does not feel a need to explain his mercurial nature. It is simply the way he is.

When we met for a second interview on July 27, I decided that it was time to ask Trump why he had sent me the lawyer's letter; I was, I confess, eager to hear what his reaction would be. I also felt that because I planned to write this preface explaining the e-mail and the subsequent phone call, it was only proper that I ask him to explain his threat of legal action.

I raised the subject as part of a question about how he worked; I noted that he appeared to use the threat of litigation often enough that it seemed to be almost a systematic business strategy for him.

RS: You actually threatened to sue me.

Trump: I did?

RS: You did.

Trump: Oh, Okay.

RS: I assume you knew that.

Trump: I actually think I did. But I didn't think of it then. (It's) hard to believe because you're such a nice guy.

I began to show him the letter.

Trump: That's all right (waving his hand, as if to show he didn't need to see the letter). Well, I heard there was a guy going around doing a book. I said to myself, I might as well put him on notice because I have so many false things written about me, it pisses me off.

RS: Is that one of your business strategies? You also talk—in interviews—about being vindictive toward people who deserve your wrath. But that's not a strategy. When you use the threat of litigation, is it because you say, "I'm going to advance my business career with the legal threat"?

Trump replied that, relative to his company's size, which is, he said, much larger than people understand, he is in very little litigation. "I sue people when I get screwed. If people are fair to me, I never do it, but when I get screwed—in your case, we sent you a letter, which isn't a lawsuit; it's a letter.

RS: It's a threat of a lawsuit.

Trump: Yeah, it is, it is a threat because I had heard there was some guy going around talking to people, some of whom were friends of mine, who immediately called me and said, "Donald, there's a guy writing a book about you, and this and that. I asked my friends, 'Well, what kind of questions?' Well, he doesn't sound so friendly. Well, he doesn't sound this and that. So, I say, 'All right, fuck him. Let's write him a letter and say we're going to sue your ass off if you write false statements.'"

RS: Was this the first time you have threatened to sue an author?

At first, he said he rarely sued authors, and then he went on: "Except I was getting all these calls. And the only one you hadn't called that I knew of was me."

RS: I did contact you. You were the first.

Trump: See, I wasn't told.

RS: You were the first.

Trump: Okay, see, I wasn't told. Usually, when a guy is going around talking to a lot of people and writing a book, there's usually an agenda.

I said that I had no agenda in any of my books and that I had simply wanted to interview him and others for the book.

He said he did not normally write such letters to authors, but he was getting calls from everyone that I was talking to. "And," he repeated, "you hadn't spoken to me. I respect Jack Welch a lot; I called Jack Welch. He said you're really a good guy, a fair guy, you're a great guy."

I noted neutrally that I had written four books on Welch.

Trump: He said you're a great guy. "Really?" Trump replied to Welch. I was shocked. Then I called you after that and I said, "Come on in, let's talk." Because usually when that happens, the people are up to no good. It's like I say, Robert, there are times in my life when a bad book can be written in all fairness. In the early '90s, and again, I never went bankrupt like a lot of other people, but people went bankrupt, the fucking world was collapsing, the real-estate market was collapsing; in the early '90s, I could have had a bad book written about me. At that point in my life, I wasn't exactly doing great, but today, I have the number one show on television. I am the biggest developer in New York, by far. I do the best job. I'm building buildings all over the place.

I noted to Trump that I understood his feeling that he did not want bad books written about him because they would form part of the literature that would become his legacy.

Trump: It's true. It's very important, books like you're writing. I think it's going to sell very well because right now, I'm selling.

It was August 16, 2004. I was again in Donald Trump's office for a brief interview. Some people arrived, people who had organized a daily radio broadcast for him over hundreds of stations. He introduced me to them and then, in encapsulated form, told them the whole story, the threatened lawsuit ("we were going to sue his ass off"), the call to Jack Welch, the cooperation since then. Again, I thought about how the world had turned.

But the true irony for me in my roller coaster of a relationship with Donald Trump came when he asked my advice on whether to include balconies on the new condominium tower he was building in Las Vegas and on whether the Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.'s prenegotiated bankruptcy in the summer of 2004 might weaken the ratings of The Apprentice. Trump points out that the company has nothing to do with him on a personal basis. Trying to avoid giving my opinion, I was amazed at how the relationship had evolved from that bizarre e-mail at the start of my writing this book to those moments when Donald Trump was seeking my advice!

The challenge in writing a book about Donald Trump in 2004 is the fact that he is such a public figure; he is so visible, so accessible, and such a pervasive figure that I knew I had to go behind the scenes of his business life for the book to work. I wanted not just new material on Trump, but the chance to probe deeply into his multifaceted business and personal existence to try to understand why he functioned the way he did.

For that, I did not want to rely simply on his books, interviews, and speeches. Above all else, I wanted to sit down with him for a series of interviews. He agreed, and starting in early June and running through mid-October 2004, I interviewed him on a regular basis. Some interviews lasted several hours; some were only 15 or 20 minutes long. The shorter ones afforded me the chance to engage in fact-checking.

Because Donald Trump does his own public relations and has no real spokesperson, it became clear to me that the only way to do the routine checking and clarifying of information arising from our interviews was to go back to Donald Trump himself. Every other business leader would have sent me to some public relations executive to field the fact-checking questions. He was happy to field them himself. I was not used to such a practice, but after a while, I came to realize that if I wanted answers to a whole set of queries, I had to go directly to the main subject of the book.

Apart from the interviews, I wanted to look carefully into the private moments of his business career.

Happily, when I began interviewing him in early June, he became comfortable enough to give me glimpses into the less public sides of his business life. Accordingly, I attended a number of private meetings at which he and his construction executives held "buy-out sessions." At these sessions, Trump telephoned various bidders to decide who would get a certain contract for lockers at a golf course, floors, and so on.

I also attended a casting call for the third season of The Apprentice, held on the basement floor at Trump Tower. I was able to "eavesdrop" near the tables where Trump and his associates interviewed candidates for the show, watching candidate after candidate try to make the right impression that would land a slot on the series.

I asked Trump to let me tag along when he made a visit to one of his properties, and he acquiesced: One summer afternoon, the two of us walked the few blocks from Trump Tower to Trump Park Avenue at Park Avenue and 59th Street. There for an hour or so, we moved from one part of the building to another as Trump issued orders to fix this or fix that.

Finally, I wanted to get a sense of the various projects he has embarked upon in the wake of The Apprentice: One evening, I flew with him in his helicopter from a heliport along the Hudson River to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he was a guest on the QVC shopping channel, promoting his latest book, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life, published in October 2004. In late October 2004, I flew on Trump's plane with him from New York to Chicago and back, and was on hand for a demolition party of his new Chicago property.

While I was talking to Trump, his business associates, colleagues in the real-estate and casino hotel industries, and other acquaintances, I spoke as well to a long list of people who have not worked for him directly but who had contact with him on various occasions. I wanted to present as full a view as possible of the man.

This book begins with an in-depth look at Donald Trump in 2004 and at the various themes that run through this book.


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Interviews & Essays

Inside the World of Donald Trump

Writing a book about Donald Trump, star of the hit reality TV show The Apprentice, was certainly different from doing a book on the other business personalities I've done books on, including Jack Welch, Michael Ovitz, Lee Scott, Bill Gates, and John Chambers. Trump raised new dilemmas for me.

First dilemma: When Trump learned that I had begun writing the book, he threatened to sue me to prevent its publication. He did not know who I was or anything about my numerous books on business leaders. But, realizing that I was carrying on with the book despite his threat, he checked me out with former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, who said that he had found my writing to be objective and fair. Trump then decided to cooperate with my book, granting numerous interviews and giving me widespread access to him behind the scenes.

Second dilemma: Donald Trump's billionaire perks. Trump has never cooperated with an author to the extent that he did with me, letting me in on his private conversations, inviting me on the set of The Apprentice, allowing me watch him film TV commercials, having me with him on trips. To get inside of his world, which I wanted to do, I had to experience his perks: the jet plane, the helicopter, his dazzling apartment, etc. Yet, how could I write dispassionately while "tasting" of such pleasures? Believe me, I tried. I believe I succeeded. But it was hard not to get sucked into his dazzling world and forget that I was somehow supposed to write objectively about all that I saw.

Third dilemma: Fact-checking. Bill Gates turned me over to his public relations agency to nail down tiny details for my book on him. Jack Welch put me in touch with his in-house corporate communications department. John Chambers put an assistant in charge of aiding me with fact checking. Donald Trump had no PR factotums. He functioned as his own PR agency. To fact-check, I needed him -- and only him. But could I bother him by asking tiny details of his life and career? I felt I had no choice. So I wound up asking him the actual age of his fiancée. Newspapers had her at 27. He said she was 33. I asked him what a caisson was. Part of a building's foundation, he explained. What was his golf handicap? Newspaper had him at five. He said he was a three to five.

The fourth dilemma: Donald Trump's self-admitted tendency to engage in what he calls "truthful hyperbole." I've always had a healthy obsession with the truth. Trump thinks it's OK to exaggerate. I felt I had to be accurate despite Trump's shadings of and meanderings around the notion of veracity. Sometimes he told me I could use one figure when he knew another was correct. Sometimes he would tell me that two different figures were both accurate. Sometimes he would say a certain figure I had was wrong but I could use it anyway. I can only say that I tried to be accurate at all times.

That's it. Robert Slater

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