Hard-hitting advice from The DonaldDonald Trump. The name carries its own exclamation point. To the man who wears it, though, it's more than a name it's also a "brand" that signifies excellence, decisiveness, risk-taking, flamboyance and an ego the size of Gibraltar (one of the few choice properties, by the way, that The Donald doesn't yet own). In his new book, Trump: How To Get Rich, the brash bon vivant and wily real estate mogul lays out a roadmap to success via a tour of his own vast holdings, which range from skyscrapers to the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
While the book was reportedly well underway before Trump took the lead role in The Apprentice, it was clearly hurried into print to capitalize on the show's popularity. The NBC-TV series focused on 16 young, business-savvy contestants in a ruthless competition to win a lucrative post at The Trump Organization and the benign gaze of its chief, as well. A second season of the show, which garnered unexpectedly high ratings, is set to air on NBC in the fall. Trump devotes the final section of the book to explaining how he became involved with the project and describing who the contestants are.
Readers shouldn't be fooled by the book's title. It's really less about "how to get rich" than it is "how I got richer." In bite-size one- and two-page chapters, the 57-year-old Trump offers such business verities as "Get a great assistant," "Keep your door open," "Pay attention to the details," "Trust your instincts" and no surprise here "Brand yourself and toot your horn." He offers 53 such "commandments" in all. Trump plucks most of his tips to would-be millionaires from his own experiences, some of which seem narrowly applicable to others, if at all. For instance, he advises against shaking hands, not because it has anything to do with accumulating wealth but because he finds the practice unhygienic. Among his other quirky tenets for getting ahead are "Play golf" (he owns four spiffy courses) and "Get a prenuptial agreement." Still, Trump spins his exemplary tales with such relish that it really doesn't matter if a few of them are off-theme; they're always entertaining. Trump even devotes a segment to discussing his much-maligned hair, which he insists is real but admits is badly colored. When not giving business advice or marveling about his diverse joys and toys, Trump uses the book as a platform to strike back at people who have crossed him. These unfortunates include former New York governor Mario Cuomo and newsman Dan Rather. Noting that he was once a big backer of Cuomo's political campaigns, Trump adds, "For my generous support, he regularly thanked me and other major contributors with a tax on real estate so onerous it drove many investors away from [New York City]." But the breaking point came, he says, when Cuomo refused to pass on to his son, Andrew, then head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Trump's request for a "perfectly legal and appropriate favor." He dismisses Cuomo as "a total stiff [and] a lousy governor." Rather fell from grace after presenting an unflattering profile of the developer on 60 Minutes. "He's got absolutely no talent or charisma or personality," Trump huffs. "I could take the average guy on the street and have him read the news...and that guy would draw bigger ratings." In fairness, though, Trump has more good things to say about the people he encounters than bad. But, as one of his tips says, sometimes you have to hold a grudge.
To demonstrate what's involved in being Donald Trump, the author opens up his calendar to a week in the fall of 2003. During this period, he not only attended to daily business matters but also met with or talked to Oscar de la Renta, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Regis Philbin (one of his favorites), Hugh Grant, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, Rudy Giuliani, Mohamed Al Fayed (whose son was killed with Princess Diana), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Melanie Griffith, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Beverly Sills, Robin Leach, Larry King, Barbara Walters, Meredith Viera, Sandra Bullock, Reggie Jackson, Tina Brown, New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton. And this was a five-day week, mind you. The joy of reading this book or any other of Trump's utterances is witnessing his great lust for life. While he may prattle on about his private jet and his helicopter or drop the names of famous friends, it's evident that his real wealth lies in never having a dull moment. Edward Morris spends his riches in Nashville.