Tuesday, 30 March 2004
How to be like Donald Trump - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - I'm a fan of Donald Trump's reality television series The Apprentice. I think it's a good show, mixing entertainment and informative aspects of business, making for a program that lives up to the hype. Well, there's a book now, Donald Trump's Trump: How to Get Rich. He's a bestselling author already, so this isn't a terribly curious exercise. It's tied to the series, and so if you like the show (as Trump and Random House hope) you'll like this book. Moreover, Random House is expecting people will pick up this book. An initial 250,000 printing has been bumped up to 500,000 to coincide with the last few remaining episodes, culminating with the April 15th finale when Trump will utter to the lucky winner, "You're hired."
The title should tell you what to expect. There are tips on how to be successful in the business world, which invariably correlate to being a successful person (that's if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool socialist). The 16 contestants on the show would have been well served to read this book, even that much-loathed Sam, who claimed in the biggest suck-up moment in the history of television that he had read all of Trump's previous books. Well, had he read this one, I'm convinced that he could have placed higher in the game.
Hopefully some moron won't buy this book, thinking if they follow everything that Donald Trump prescribes, they'll be as rich and famous as he is. There are many worthwhile tips however. Sure, his life is enviable to some, but it hasn't been without knocks or tribulation. Trump mentions his failures in business, that one time in the late 1980s, early 1990s, when he owed creditors $9.2 billion dollars. He blames this on a lack of focus, where scoring on business deals wasn't the priority when he'd rather jet off to Europe to attend a fashion show. Passing a bum on the street, he realised something vivid, "He was worth $9.2 billion more than I was." He doesn't ignore the difficulties of leading a public life, as mention is made to his former wives Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. His fortune in business is lauded, naturally if only to follow one of the many rules he writes in the book, "If you don't tell people about your success, the probably won't know about it." His family life that of his children is discussed and Trump may boast. These were privileged kids, and he's raised them to be sensible young people, something that can't be said of certain rich offspring, which have become spectacles of themselves on reality television.
Trump: How To Get Rich really is a précis about the life of The Donald, and if you're so inclined to buy into the hype, a "how-to" guide on how to be just like him, not that you could, even after plunking down $29.95 CDN at your local bookseller. It's obvious that there isn't a foolproof way to being a successful billionaire like Donald Trump. This book is more a memoir of sorts, and when you get down to it, a tool designed to make Trump richer, as fans of the show will buy into it for whatever reason whether it's a sycophantic obsession over Trump, or assurance for their lack of self-esteem, or insight into the reality program that everyone seems to like.
Trump however runs the risk of over exposing himself. He happens to be friends with Regis Philbin, lauding the television talk show host numerous times in the book, for being a gregarious person, as well as a frequent dinner companion. Trump could learn a thing or two from Philbin, namely the meteoric rise and fall of his game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on ABC. You're seeing The Apprentice aired twice a week on NBC, while reruns abound on CNBC. (In Canada, it's no different with Global airing reruns either on the main network or on their cable outlets.) He's making cell phone commercials, as well as weekly appearances everywhere, from the Today Show to Imus in the Morning. Are you watching any of "March Madness"? Well he pops up there too from time to time.
This is where the contradiction appears, in the book and in the Trump persona. Last Friday, he was on with Don Imus claiming that though he's loaded he's still in the game because he's still having fun. Imus warned him not to be too over exposed, and Trump said, well, they're offering him lots of money; he'd be foolish to pass it up. Imus then asks, why do it if he had all kinds of wealth. Trump timidly responded, well maybe he was just lying all along.
There are places in the book where Trump is so effusive in his compliments it's enough to make you heave. It's strange really, when Trump goes on and on complimenting people, as you'd think with his wealth and power you wouldn't think he'd need to suck up or kiss ass to anybody. And at times, Trump is awfully brutal and perfectly honest. While lavishing praise on Regis Philbin or Oprah Winfrey, he can expose Mario Cuomo for being the loser that he is, or Dan Rather for being an untalented schmuck. But then this exercise in loving hard and hating hard makes one realise that this is the way of life whereupon this man has made his life the success that it is. For some it may not work, and that's the great big caveat that one ought to place on the marketing, the hype and the advertising - buying this book and following its rules to the letter will not make you the next Donald Trump. What it'll probably do is knock you out of 30 bucks, but really for entertainment's sake, it's 30 bucks worth spending.
Trump divides the book into sections where he lays out 'rules' by which you should live by, as they've worked out well for him. Rather than just plunk them on the page, he's included anecdotes and stories to illustrate his points. Some of the points make for interesting reading, and certainly can be useful to one in whatever line they do, whether it's mowing lawns or running a multinational corporation. Some rules may not work for some, but taken as a whole it's an excellent perspective on Trump's life, something that's worth reading considering he's such a personality and invariable a success.
Donald Trump is often very witty in the book and for that, it's worth picking up, as well as for his frankness. However public the man is, he's still very much an enigma. What drives him, besides the thrill of doing a deal? Socialists like Naomi Klein will probably abhor his lack of humility and his constant branding of himself. Then again, he was such a presence in the 1980s, which epitomised worldwide the notion that greed is good. Curious then, why Trump would want to compose a volume on trying to get book-buying schmucks rich too. It's sharing the wealth, I suppose.
Trump: How to Get Rich by Donald J. Trump with Meredith McIver, is published by Random House and sells for $29.95 CDN ($21.95 USD). (ISBN: 1400063272)
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