Having read and reviewed one real estate book each week for the last 26 years, I thought it might be a stretch to call Donald Trump’s latest book “Trump: How to Get Rich” a real estate book. But that’s what it really is. Without his real estate, Trump would be a nobody and you never would have heard of him.
Although the book title might be a slight exaggeration, the book is filled with sage advice in short semi-chapters from a master who has parlayed his gutsy start into a multibillion-dollar real estate empire. Trump chose his parents well. Mary and Fred Trump gave him a great start in real estate.
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But “The Donald” built upon his father’s realty development foundation of constructing modest Brooklyn apartments when, after graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to Manhattan and began his career by renovating the old Commodore Hotel at Grand Central Station. Today, it is the Grand Hyatt.
It takes guts to start with a major project like that. The book summarizes how Trump put it together and went on to greater triumphs.
This easy reading book, written in a relaxed style that isn’t out to impress the reader, conveys Trump’s successes. But he conveniently neglects to mention his current major “challenges,” such as his Atlantic City gambling casinos, which have lost money for years. Along the way, Trump names names, mostly favorably.
However, CBS-TV’s Dan Rather and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo have incurred Trump’s wrath and he doesn’t hesitate to explain why. He also tells many stories about unnamed ex-friends who are no longer on his welcome list. Trump admits he carries grudges a very long time, although he refers to several former adversaries who have become good friends, such as casino competitor Steve Wynn.
Will this book make the reader rich? Probably not. But it does contain lots of sound advice for every businessperson from an exceptional businessman who has changed the face of U.S. real estate. Trump’s quest for quality in his buildings is compulsive, down to slightest details, such as selecting the fittings for his properties, thus resulting in higher than local market value rents and sales prices.
Whether you are a novice real estate investor, or a long-time realty professional, you’ll enjoy this book once you get used to the Trump writing style and ego. He doesn’t deny his huge ego. But his advice, especially when negotiating, is priceless. “Be reasonable and flexible”; “trust your instincts”; “make sure both sides come out winning”; and “be patient” are just a few of Trumps many negotiation maxims.
Along the way, there are lots of photos of Trump with personalities mentioned in the text. Many are well-known, such as President Clinton, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and his special friend Regis Philbin. But there are also photos of lots of “no names” who are vital to Trump’s success.
Trump shows his humor despite a hectic schedule. I was worn out just reading his daily schedule. But poor Jason Greenblatt (“a young and brilliant lawyer who works for me”) chose the wrong day and time to ask for a raise. Trump uses that example to show “Money, like comedy, is all about timing.” Greenblatt eventually got his raise, but not that day.
Trump lavishes praise but hesitates to criticize. There are lots of real estate stories, including an amazing list of all the Trump properties, both completed and under development.
Trump tackles his well-known characteristics head-on. He explains why he dislikes shaking hands (he believes that’s how germs are transmitted). He even has a segment about his hair (it’s his own but he admits to coloring it because he doesn’t like gray hair). He warns everyone, including famous applicant Sam Solovey from “The Apprentice,” to have a prenuptial agreement before getting married. And Trump even shows how he handles major problems, such as when he owed billions to banks but couldn’t pay.
Speaking of “The Apprentice,” Trump explains why he agreed to do the TV show when Mark Burnett approached him. He says he did it primarily for the publicity for his properties to increase their prestige and market value. Along the way, Trump reveals TV secrets, such as “the boardroom” is really a set in the Trump Tower (because the real boardroom is almost constantly in use by his employees), his personal evaluation of each apprentice, and the fact his dialogue, as well as that of co-stars George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher, is real and unscripted.
Does Trump have a big ego? He sure does. It comes across very strong in the book. He says successful and rich people need a big ego.
Chapter topics include “Five Billion Reasons Why You Should Read This Book”; “The Donald J. Trump School of Business and Management”; “Your Personal Apprenticeship (Career Advice from The Donald)”; “Money, Money, Money, Money”; “The Secrets of Negotiation”; “The Trump Lifestyle”; and “Inside ‘The Apprentice.'”
If you are serious about real estate, you’ll enjoy this new book. However, if you don’t care about how to earn significant real estate profits, you probably won’t like this book unless you read it just for the fascination of learning how one of the nation’s richest men lives. On my scale of one to 10, it earns a solid 10.
“Trump: How to Get Rich,” by Donald J. Trump, with Meredith McIver (Random House, New York), 2004, $21.95, 227 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.
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