Donald Trump is a billionaire through his business acumen and relentless self-promotion, and continues to build his empire even though his wealth exceeds most people's wildest dreams.
Trump, interviewed at the basement restaurant of his signature Trump Tower in New York City for a “Lunch with the Financial Times” series
cover story, claims to be worth more than $8 billion, despite the troubles that have hit some of his investments.
At 66, he has no plans to retire any time soon.
“If you love what you do, if you love going to the office, if you really like it, not just say it, but really like it, it keeps you young and energized. I really love what I do,” Trump told FT's New York Managing Editor Martin Dixon over lunch. “You know I’ve become very successful over the years. I think I own among the greatest properties in the world.”
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Since his company is privately held, and Trump has extensively licensed his brand, many estimates put his worth much lower, with Forbes saying it's closer to $3 billion.
Trump dismisses the Forbes' estimate.
“People don’t have access to my numbers but I’m worth more than eight,” he said, citing the paperwork he filed when he was considering a run for the presidency to support the higher figure.
Trump is a TV regular whose “Celebrity Apprentice” is about to start its 13th season. He also uses Twitter to send out messages to his followers on everything from politics to business philosophy and he has even written several books.
The 1990s hurt Trump's brand when his Atlantic City hotels filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection several times. Trump bounced back and expanded his name and wealth, even buying the Miss Universe pageant.
During the interview Trump discussed the golf course he built on the Scotland coast near Aberdeen. The course is highly rated, but Trump had to overcome a great deal of opposition from environmentalists and local residents.
He noted that he has a list of developments that have brought protest, but “I do many things that are controversial. When people see it, they love it!” In addition, the controversy has been good publicity, helping to make the new course a great success.
As usual, there are more challenges ahead for Trump. The Scottish government wants to build offshore windmills in sight of the Trump course, something he vows to fight.
“A lot of people were devastated when their houses were ruined and their values destroyed when they put up a windmill near it. But they had no voice,” he explained. “Now they have a voice: me. I’ve empowered them to fight. And people are fighting these ugly monstrosities.”
Trump also said in the interview that he doesn't regret some of his more controversial political moves, including resurrecting the “birther” issue by raising the possibility publicly that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Trump even raised his controversial offer to donate $5 million to the charity of the president’s choice if Obama releases his college transcript and passport application. Trump upped the offer to $50 million.
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