Donald Trump Biography

Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, to parents Mary Macleod Trump and Frederick Christ Trump, and grew up in Jamaica Bay, N.Y.

His father, Fred C. Trump, a son of German immigrants, was a real estate magnate who became a millionaire by offering residential real estate in the Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island boroughs of New York City. His mother was a native of Scotland.

Trump grew up with a brother and two sisters, including Maryanne Trump Barry, a federal judge in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

After proving to be a disciplinary problem at The Kew Forest School, Trump was sent to the New York Military Academy during his high school years.

He excelled at the Academy, graduated and attended Fordham University in New York for two years before transferring to the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1968 with a B.S. in economics and real estate from The Wharton School of Finance.

Biographer Gwenda Blair noted in her book, "The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire," that Trump had fewer friends at Wharton than he had had at military school. She wrote that he had sought out real estate professors as friends, and his situation was altogether a socially awkward one.

After graduating, Trump moved back to New York to work with his father for five years in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, brokering real estate development deals for Fred’s Trump Enterprises.

Trump said on his Web site: “My father was my mentor and I learned a tremendous amount about every aspect of the construction industry from him.”

His father is also quoted as saying, “Some of my best deals were brokered by my son, Donald … everything he touches turns to gold.”

At the Trump Organization, Donald Trump started out working with middle-class rental housing. He made the move from the outer boroughs into Manhattan’s real estate market in the mid-'70s, and instantly won a deal from the bankrupt Pennsylvania Railroad Company for rail yard property on Manhattan’s West side from West 30th-39th streets, and from West 59th-72nd streets along the Hudson River.

In 1975, the younger Trump became president of the company and renamed it the Trump Organization.

Trump reportedly benefited in the 1970s from the financially strained New York City government's willingness to give tax concessions in exchange for investment. He proposed reconstruction of the Commodore Hotel in 1976, funding the project with tax breaks, and eventually sold his stake to Hyatt Hotels two years later, when the construction started. The hotel opened as the Grand Hyatt in 1980.

Trump then took on renovating the Javits Convention Center, a project that he estimated would take $110 million to complete, but the New York City government thought would take between $750 million and $1 billion. His offer to take over the project for cost was not accepted.

Later in 1980, a similar situation would take place with the renovation of Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park. The New York City Government estimated the construction would take under three years, but after spending $12 million, the rink was still under renovation in 1986.

Trump this time suggested taking the project at no cost -- the government again denied him until local media attention flared up. After taking control of the project, Trump completed the rink in six months at $750,000 under budget.

Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelničkova in 1977, and despite rumors of affairs and womanizing, had three children with her: Donald Jr. in 1977, Ivanka in 1981 and Eric in 1984. It was she who bestowed upon him the famous moniker “The Donald.”

Trump Organization soared in the economic highs of the '80s with Donald’s own real estate deals in residential and hotel properties. He and Ivana ruled Manhattan society, and his status grew on the contacts he made with politicians and other businessmen.

The budding real estate tycoon bought the classy Plaza Hotel and renovated that as well. He spearheaded construction of the Jacob Javits convention center on his rail yard properties in the West 30s. He also opened Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Trump Parc condominiums and owned the former New Jersey Generals football team.

Trump also dove into the casino business in Atlantic City, N.J., in the '80s, and his corporation Trump Organization now runs three in the area: Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Marina Casino Resort and Trump Plaza on the Boardwalk.

These sites have often served as host locations for WWE events and beauty pageants; Trump owns the broadcasting rights for the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants.

In the late '80s, he acquired a shuttle service run by Eastern Airlines and renamed it the Trump Shuttle. Flights ran from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Boston’s Logan Airport, and also to D.C.’s Reagan National Airport. He quickly defaulted on his loans, though, having been hit by the recession at the time, and the shuttle became operated by US Air as of 1992. Trump gave up ownership in 1994.

At Christmas in 1990, Donald’s affair with aspiring actress Marla Maples, cousin of Heather Locklear, made tabloid covers and resulted in a heated confrontation between Ivana and Marla.

Despite his difficulties, and loan debts of almost $2 billion, Trump continued to have multiple pots boiling. Milton Bradley published a Trump board game in 1990, and “Trump Card” became a game show for one season in 1990.

The real estate mogul, famous for being “the master of the deal,” restructured his financial assets and debts using bankruptcy protection and offloaded some of his assets to banks and creditors in the early '90s.

His businesses, especially casinos, suffered, but he was soon on his way to a multi-million dollar comeback in the mid-late 1990s. Trump built up his reputation using media exposure to his advantage with numerous contacts, quotes and cameos.

Trump tried to overcome rumors and failed investments and to negotiate and reclaim any lost stakes in his Trump assets through financial loan and bond deals. This became the theme for his book “The Art of the Comeback.”

In 1991, Ivana filed for divorce from Trump, igniting a messy, lengthy battle that ended in a $20 million settlement for Ivana in March 1992.

Trump then married Marla in December 1993 after the birth of their daughter, Tiffany, in October of the same year. The pair split, though, in 1997, and divorced in 1999.

Trump unsuccessfully ran for president in Republican primaries in 1996. Also in 1996, he renovated 40 Wall Street, now the Trump Building in downtown Manhattan’s financial district near the New York Stock Exchange.

The year 1998 proved to be a big one: he owned and sold The St. Moritz Hotel (now called the Ritz Carlton); he opened the luxurious hotel and residence Trump International Hotel and Tower on Manhattan’s ritzy Central Park West and he bought the antique Mayfair Hotel at auction in 1998, which he renovated with financial partners and turned into what is now 610 Park Avenue, a luxury condominium building.

He also finished the high-rise condo complex Trump Palace, the tallest building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

In 1999, Trump met Melania Knauss, who was the American equivalent of a supermodel in Europe, at a fashion event. Melania was born Melanija Knavs in 1970 in the area of the former Yugoslavia now known as Slovenia. Despite a brief breakup in 2000, the two became engaged in 2004.

Trump quit the Republican party in 1999 and switched to the Reform party, and ran for president again in 2000. Trump is a centrist who gives money to both parties, mostly maintaining Democratic contacts but openly admits he voted for President Bush because of his tax cut policy. He remains a friend of Democrats Sen. Chuck Schumer, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Trump also supports centrist Arizona Sen. John McCain. In the 2004 presidential election, he gave $2,000 to both Bush and his rival John Kerry.

The rail yards along the Hudson River Trump acquired in the 1970s became the basis for a multi-billion dollar housing project, comprised of 5,700 units, called Trump Place. Trump Place expands along his entire Upper West Side rail yard property.

In 2001, Trump World Tower opened near the U.N., a 72-story luxury residential complex.

In 2002, he bought the Delmonico Hotel and restored it to become luxury condominiums at Trump Park Avenue, which opened in 2003.

Also in 2002, he began construction on the Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences in Miami Beach, Fla., and a luxury condominium and hotel complex in Vegas.

The year 2004, however, proved to bring a major sea change for Trump, when he teamed with Mark Burnett Productions — producer of the reality show "Survivor" — to make "The Apprentice."

"The Apprentice" is an on-air competition, or what Trump calls “a 15-week job interview” to find a protegé to handle his next big project.

Trump hosts the program, where the contestants live in a communal suite at Trump Tower in New York City and try to prove themselves as hard-working, no-nonsense business people.

"The Apprentice" was an original idea and a ratings winner. Trump constantly hailed "The Apprentice" as “the best show on television,” where he would note in every episode that something he did was the biggest, tallest, most successful or most expensive. His straight-forward dismissal of contestants with "You're fired!" became a catch phrase for Trump's show and his hard-nosed approach to business.

The Trump collection is never-ending: he is building the Trump 29 Casino in Palm Springs, Calif., 75 luxury homes on the Pacific coast in California and 20 mansions near Lamington Farm in Bedminster, N.J.

He also owns the Trump National Golf Course in Westchester, N.Y., Trump Casino riverboat in Buffington Harbor, Ind., Trump National Golf Club in both Los Angeles and in Bedminster, N.J., and Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Also in Palm Beach, he restored and now owns the Mar-a-Lago Club developed from an estate once owned by EF Hutton, which was the site for his 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss.

The two wed in January 2005 despite Trump's reluctance to get married again. They announced they were expecting in September 2005, and Melania gave birth to Barron William Trump in March 2006.

In 2005, Trump University was launched, an online business education school. Trump also launched, a travel Web site, and the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection offering watches, suits, ties, shirts, cufflinks, wallets and glasses.

Trump Organization also produces Trump Ice bottled water, Trump Magazine and the new Trump vodka.

Trump also holds a 17 percent stake in a Bermuda-based financial holdings company called Parker Adnan, and the Nike-Town store on E. 57th St next to Tiffany’s in Manhattan.

As founder, chairman, president and CEO of Trump Organization, Trump’s net worth stood at $2.7 billion in 2005 according to Forbes — although this is disputed.

A libel suit was filed against biographer Tim O’Brien in 2006 for claiming Trump was only worth $150 million, and the New York Times published an investigation in October 2005 that said Trump’s figures were overstated by Forbes.

Trump is also co-chair and founder of the Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund, and founded the Wharton School Real Estate Center at his alma mater.

He is also a best-selling author. His books include: "Trump: The Art of the Deal," "Surviving at the Top," "Trump: The Art of the Comeback," the politically-themed "The America We Deserve," "Think Like a Billionaire" and "How to Get Rich: Big Deals From the Star of The Apprentice."

In December 2006, press reports circulated about Miss USA Tara Conner's underage drug and alcohol abuse. Conner faced giving up her crown, but to the public's surprise, after meeting personally with Trump, Conner was given a second chance by the mogul and pageant-owner.

"I've always been a believer in second chances," Trump announced at a press conference on Dec. 19. "Tara is good person. Tara has tried hard. Tara is going to be given a second chance."

The next day, comedian and talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell criticized Trump for being easy on Conner on ABC's "The View." Flipping her hair over to one side and imitating Trump, O'Donnell called him a "snake oil salesman," saying he was not a self-made man and that he'd gone bankrupt at one point.

"Left the first wife, had an affair, left the second wife, had an affair," O'Donnell said of Trump. "Had kids both times, but he’s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America. Donald, sit and spin, my friend."

Trump publicly responded to O'Donnell's statements, denied he was ever bankrupt and threatened to sue her.

"You can't make false statements," Trump told People magazine. "Rosie will rue the words she said. I'll most likely sue her for making those false statements -- and it'll be fun. Rosie's a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie."

Trump also appeared on FOX News, CNN, "Entertainment Tonight," "The Insider" and elsewhere to give his opinion on O'Donnell. The comedian responded in her blog, but otherwise issued no further comment after Trump's rebuttal, which he said was a sign of her fear of a lawsuit.

In 2007, Trump was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his success with "The Apprentice."

NBC announced "The Apprentice" was not on its fall 2007 schedule, and on May 19, Trump made a public statement that he was "moving on from 'The Apprentice'" and the series was over.

Conflicting reports emerged two days later when NBC said Trump still had a year left on his contract. On July 16, NBC announced that the show had been renewed with a special "Celebrity Edition."