ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Donald Trump (search) may have a new project for his apprentices — helping him try to figure out how to take his troubled casino company private after a proposed bailout fell through.
Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. (search) and investment banker DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (search), which announced the bailout plan last month as part of a prepackaged Trump Hotels bankruptcy, said late Wednesday they had terminated discussions "by mutual agreement."
In a prepared statement, the tycoon-turned-TV star said the company was pursuing restructuring proposals with its bondholders and that it "may pursue a potential privatization of the company."
Neither Trump, who stars in the reality TV show "The Apprentice (search)," nor Trump Hotels Executive Vice President Scott Butera returned calls seeking comment Thursday.
DLJ, a private equity arm of Credit Suisse First Boston, declined to comment.
Trump has been searching for a way to save his cash-strapped casino company for months. The company, which operates three casinos in Atlantic City, has $1.8 billion in debt and is so overburdened with interest payments it has been unable to finance improvements or expansions to keep up with Atlantic City competitors.
The situation has come under particular scrutiny because of Trump's larger-than-life role as the ultimate businessman in "The Apprentice." Every week, he fires a contestant for poor work performance and dispenses advice about how to succeed; the last remaining contestant wins an executive job at his company.
One analyst said it was unlikely Trump could raise the money to take the company private. Without a cash infusion, bankruptcy appears to be his only option, according to casino industry analyst Jane Pedreira of Lehman Brothers.
"He's in a tough spot right now," said Pedreira. "If he has to file, his name will be in the press for two years or however long it takes to get through bankruptcy."
Under the proposed DLJ bailout, announced Aug. 9, Trump would have surrendered his majority stake and his title as CEO but left his name on the company and kept a 25 percent interest — as long as he made a required $55 million cash investment in the company.
But Trump needed bondholders to sign off on the restructuring, and they apparently were not ready to. Lisa Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Chanin Capital Partners, which represents holders of Trump Casino Holdings bonds, declined to comment.