Transcript: Donald Trump on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of 'FOX News Sunday,' March 6, 2005.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: From the front page to the business page, Martha Stewart's release from prison Friday is big news. So what are her chances of coming all the way back?

We decided to ask Donald Trump, who has known Stewart for years and has already recruited her to do a spin-off of his "Apprentice" reality TV series.

We went to Trump's headquarters in the Trump Tower in New York to talk with him about Martha Stewart. Donald Trump knows all about using celebrity to build your business.

And we sat down with him, where else but in one of his boardrooms, to discuss what kind of second act we can expect from America's once and perhaps future domestic diva.


WALLACE: Does Martha Stewart come out of prison as damaged goods or a hot property?

DONALD TRUMP, MOGUL: I don't think she's damaged at all. I think she's bigger than ever before. She went in. She made a mistake, I guess. I mean, people are saying she did it; people are saying she didn't. But she went in, she served her time, and she comes out hotter than ever before.

WALLACE: Someone said that deciding to do her time last fall rather than waiting years for an appeal was a smart career move.

TRUMP: Well, you know, I was sort of against it. I thought that she would do better with the appeal if she didn't go in. Because it's a lot easier now for the appeal judges to say, hey — and I understand these judges and how they work a little bit, and I have great respect for them. It's awfully tough for them to say, "OK, by the way, everything was a mistake," when she's already served the time.

So, from the pure standpoint of the appeal, I don't think it was the right thing to do. From the standpoint of life, I think it probably was.

WALLACE: And from the standpoint of business?

TRUMP: I think it's behind her. I absolutely think it's behind her. And again, I think she's bigger than ever before.

WALLACE: You said that she's a hot property. Her stock is up sharply since she was sentenced last summer. On the other hand, her company just announced that they lost $60 million last year, which is a lot of money for her company.

How solid is Martha Stewart's business?

TRUMP: She's going to make it very solid. She's going to come out, she's going to make a lot of money for the company, a lot of money for herself. That's my opinion.

WALLACE: But, you know, she was selling not a product, she was selling a lifestyle, she was selling herself. Doesn't the fact that she's a convicted criminal hurt that at all?

TRUMP: Only time will tell. I mean, plenty of people are saying that. You're asking me the question, I think, more as a statement maybe than a question, Chris. Plenty of people are saying it. Plenty of people think it. I don't think so. I think she's going to be a tremendous everything now that she's out.

She did the right thing. She got it over with. You know, you serve your time, you do your thing. It's not the end of your life. You have to go on with life. She's done that, and she's done it brilliantly. And she's done it bravely.

WALLACE: What makes you think that she will be a reality TV star?

TRUMP: Well, you never know because you never know. You never know what works. I mean, Mark Cuban goes on, he fails. Branson goes on, he fails.

WALLACE: Yes, you hated that, didn't you?

TRUMP: Trump goes on — I loved it, I love to see — you know...

WALLACE: Trump goes on...

TRUMP: I like to see my opponents fail. Trump goes on, megahit. Correct, even by your standard. Mega, megahit. I mean, "The Apprentice" has become a big monster.

And the fact is that I think Martha will do very well.

WALLACE: Any particular reason? Is there something about her?

TRUMP: Yes, she's got star power. She's got a magic to her. She's always had it, and she has it right now. And perhaps she has it now more than she had it before. But she's got magic.

STEWART: Why? Why would she have more star power now than before this whole thing started?

TRUMP: Because I think people admire the way she took it. I know many powerful men, strong men that would not have been able to handle what she went through. They wouldn't have been able to handle it. She didn't break down, she didn't weep, she didn't — she took it tough. I mean, she's tough. She's all right. And I think people respect that.

Look, when we lose 1,500 soldiers at a minimum in Iraq, with the world going crazy with nuclear weapons, with all of the problems that you report on so brilliantly all the time, I think it was a pretty tough punishment for Martha. But I really don't know the details of the case.

WALLACE: How do you compare what she did, even at the worst, to what other big corporate executives have gotten in trouble for?

TRUMP: Well, you know, if you're talking about the Enrons and other things, I mean, those were big, big numbers. Martha was like over $22,000 or something. And, you know...

WALLACE: I think it was $50,000, but...

TRUMP: You're not talking about the same world. You're talking about billions, hundreds of billions of dollars that was squandered, and fraudulently so. And I just don't think you can really put them in the same category at all.

WALLACE: Why do you think she became such a target, whether it was for the federal investigators, whether it was for us in the media?

TRUMP: Maybe because she was out there and she was doing so well. I guess you could say that about a lot of people. A lot of people are targets. And they're targets for people such as yourself.

I mean, Martha was doing well. She was hot. She perhaps became not so hot. And now that she comes out, I think, for whatever reason, she's hotter than ever before.

WALLACE: Do you think it had anything to do with the fact that she's a woman?

TRUMP: No. I don't think so. I think a lot of people think that, but I don't think so.

WALLACE: Are there more corporate crooks these days, or is it just that they're getting caught more now than they used to be?

TRUMP: I think it's probably always going to be the same. The vast majority of people in business are honest, the vast majority. And you'll always have the Enrons and the different things that you see so much and so prominent today in the news. But the vast majority are very honest, hard-working people.

WALLACE: And what do you think when you see these big, powerful executives go on trial and tell the jury, "Hey, I didn't know what was going on in my business"?

TRUMP: Well, it's hard for me to believe. I mean, you know, I've been watching the same thing that you've been watching. And whether it's Ebbers or somebody else, it's awfully inconceivable that he had no concept of what was going on.

WALLACE: Bernie Ebbers, who was the head of WorldCom...

TRUMP: That's correct.

WALLACE: ... who says, "Hey, I didn't know all that stuff."

TRUMP: He said he didn't know a thing. He didn't know anything. A little surprising.

WALLACE: Just like the scene in Casablanca, "I'm shocked to find there's gambling going on in the back room"?

TRUMP: It's true. Look, I guess it's their only defense, but it doesn't seem likely to me.

WALLACE: Let's talk some big issues.

How's the economy doing?

TRUMP: I think the economy is doing well, and a lot of people don't understand it. But for me, the weak dollar in the real estate business, the weak dollar has been a boon. There's never been in my history a market like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, where I'm in all of those markets — Miami. There's never been a market like today. There's never been a market like this.

A lot of it has to do with the weak dollar, which...

WALLACE: Explain. Why does the weak dollar help?

TRUMP: Because foreign investment comes in. Because they're buying into the weak dollar, and they're buying real estate, and they're buying other things.

And a lot of it probably more so has to do with the low interest rates, because the rates continue to stay low. And if the rates continue to stay low, the economy will continue to do well.

WALLACE: But some people say, long-term, that when you get these huge budget deficits and you get a weak dollar, it's not a very stable foundation for an economy.

TRUMP: Well, something bad could happen. And hopefully the deficits are going to be straightened out. But the deficits are very humongous (ph).

And I'm saying right now, we have a weak dollar, we have low interest rates, we have a good economy. But that can't go on forever, I agree with you.

TRUMP: New subject: What do you think of letting people have personal savings accounts in Social Security?

TRUMP: It sounds to me like the Democratic view is probably going to win.

If there's any risk in the president's plan, he's going to have a hard time putting it forth. And, you know, there can be risk in that plan. It can also be a better plan. It can work both ways.

It could be better and solve all of the problems of Social Security. But if things go bad, it can be worse. And I guess the Democrats are looking at it and saying, "We don't want to take a chance on things going badly."

WALLACE: And you make it sound like you think that's going to win the political argument.

TRUMP: People don't want to be at risk with Social Security. But then you're going to say, well, what's going to happen in 22 years or in 20 years or in 15 years when it collapses? And most people think that, well, if it collapses, the government's going to be there to boost it up.

WALLACE: Isn't it nice to be so old that you don't have to worry about it?

TRUMP: That's right. I'm old enough I don't have to worry. That's very nice.


WALLACE: How's the Trump economy doing? And specifically, because people ask me, why is it that your hotels and casinos had to file for bankruptcy protection?

TRUMP: Well, the casinos make up less than 1 percent of my net worth. It's a public company. And what I want to do is shed debt. I'm shedding a lot of debt in the casino companies.

WALLACE: Does it embarrass you, Donald Trump, to have to file...

TRUMP: No. Well, I didn't file. I mean, it's a company. It's one of many, many companies that I have.

WALLACE: Your name on it.

TRUMP: Yes, it's got my name on it. And again, it's going to be a very strong company. But no, that's a legal thing that you see all the time. It doesn't bother me.

WALLACE: Dan Rather is stepping down as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News" this week. You don't care much for him, do you?

TRUMP: Well, I think he did a report on me that was very dishonest. So, since then, I don't deal with him.

And I've never understood how he stays in position so long. How does this guy stay in position when he always has the lowest ratings? I mean, he's had bad ratings for years. Now, this isn't just a new phenomena. Dan Rather has had the worst ratings for years, and he continues to go forward. So I never understood it.

TRUMP: So I'm not a big fan of Dan Rather. I don't want to be a fan of Dan Rather. I don't think he's good at the news. I don't think a lot of people think he's good at the news. He was always highly overrated.

And other than that, you know...

WALLACE: Other than that, you're going to send him some flowers?


TRUMP: Other than that, I think he's a wonderful guy.

WALLACE: What do you think of the whole Bush memo-gate?

TRUMP: Well, I think it was disgusting the way it was handled by Dan Rather. And I don't know why they're firing other people. He was the head of it, so why aren't they firing Dan Rather? But I guess they want to let him go gracefully.

WALLACE: What would you do?

TRUMP: I would have fired him a long time ago.

WALLACE: How would you have done it?

TRUMP: I would have said, "Dan, you're fired."