We call this column “Dope,” but it’s not everyday that we get to write about such a prize example as you find in the person of Donald Trump—or, as he might more accurately be called, Chump.
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
About six months ago, Warner Books released a book on Chump by New York Times business writer Timothy O’Brien. One of a number of books coming out at roughly the same time about the star of TV’s “The Apprentice,” it garnered little attention and was rapidly on its way to being forgotten when Chump showed his business savvy by suing both author and publisher for $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. Why did Chump, supposedly a master of public relations, point eyes towards O’Brien’s tome?
Read it, and you can make a pretty good guess. It’s not only that the book demolishes Chump’s claims that he’s got billions in wealth. It’s also that Chump gave the author total access, and O’Brien used the access to reveal him as a megalomaniacal buffoon and a master of hype rather than a brilliant mogul. Chump isn’t being rational, of course, but then, as the book shows, where money and pride are concerned, he rarely is.
Among the claims the book documents:
Chump’s father Fred controlled over 25,000 apartments. Chump started out among New York’s richest men. That he has repeatedly neared bankruptcy is in itself a remarkable achievement.
In 1991 Chump was so broke that he had to misuse Chump corporate funds and then borrow from his sister and brother merely so that he could pay off the modest prenuptial terms of his divorce from ex-wife Ivana. And in years to come he would borrow millions more from rich relatives to avoid bankruptcy.
Chump’s Art of The Deal explicitly advises would-be tycoons never to agree to loans that make them personally liable in case of business failure. Yet Chump agreed to $900 million in such loans, an amount in excess of his own net worth and the cause of his subsequent insolvency.
According to Chump’s former head of PR, he spends more time each day talking to gossip writers than handling business affairs.
Chump’s organization has no chief financial officer, no economist and no certified public accountant, and its chief operating officer is his former bodyguard, a man who has never even heard of an organization chart.
Perhaps in consequence of this disorganization within the Chump Organization, Chump paid more for prize ’80s acquisitions like the Delta Shuttle than even the companies themselves ever thought that they could possibly be worth.
Today Chump owns few of the buildings with his name on it. Reduced to being a hired hand for people who really are fabulously rich, Chump mostly just offers his name for use by others to front their projects. Thus, Chump didn’t own the Riverside South Trump properties, the Trump International Building, etc. Much of his wealth now is not in his lost New York real estate properties or in his bankrupted casinos, but in golf courses. Yes, golf courses. Which raises a question: What exactly are the apprentices supposed to learn from him?