How Donald Trump Would Save the Auto Industry and More

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," December 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now you go to Trump Tower in Manhattan. Moments ago, Donald Trump went "On the Record" about the proposed auto bailout, the economic crisis overall, and much more.


VAN SUSTEREN: The bailout--what's your thought on the federal government lending money to the big three?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, it's very interesting, because the financial guys go down and they get these hundreds of billions of dollars. And the manufacturers having certainly a hard time--you know, when they make them drive in a Chevy Impala, or whatever it is, and you see the head of General Motors driving for two days down from Detroit, it's pretty demeaning for him to be in that position and to be put in that position.

But certainly the model hasn't worked. It hasn't been working. A lot of people want it to work. I've watched the head of the unions -- I think he's a very impressive guy. And you listen to him, and it's 10 percent of the cost, the unions. But I notice that nothing's ever said too much about the unions, but they're attacking every other front.

I think you have to try and save the companies, and I think you can easily save the companies. But I would really say, and I've used it over the years--not personally, but I've used it for different companies--you throw it into a chapter, you negotiate your deal, you make some new deals, you keep some deals the way they are, and you just make it better. You make it work.

And I don't understand why they've gotten away from that model. You see Tribune Company just went in, so many companies. They're going bankrupt all over the place.

The country is a disaster. The world right now--I guess they're trying to blame this country--but the world right now is in disastrous shape financially. And I can only say it's a very interesting period of time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you talk about throwing it into bankruptcy, and you've only done professionally, not personally. But the CEOs and the companies are resisting this. What is their -- they say that their products could be tarnished. I think their products are already tarnished by their behavior. But why do you thing they are resisting this so much?

TRUMP: Well, the "B" word is a bad word. It's not a word that people like, but actually it's a word that's getting used more and more. If you look at the number of bankruptcy filings, they are up higher than probably any time since 1929. But it's just something that would work.

And even somebody like me--if I have a really bad company--you have them. You do hundreds of deals, and all of sudden you have one that doesn't work. You can use that word, and people don't look down on people if they have to use that word.

And look at what happened with the airlines. I don't know how they're doing now. I know they were getting killed by fuel, and now fuel has come down somewhat. But you look at the airlines. Do you ever say you're not flying on United or you're not flying on Delta on or a certain airline because they went Chapter 11?

I think I would rather buying a car than flying in something that I don't have confidence in. So it will be very interesting to see what happens--

VAN SUSTEREN: But are they delusional, these CEOs? They are saying the products won't be bought, that it's terrible thing to put them in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy has worked. It's another form of restructuring. What is wrong with these CEOs that they are so resistant to this as an option?

TRUMP: Well, actually, the interesting thing is that the government can put in $25 million or $30 million or $50 million of what we call "dip financing." which would be totally secured financing. They would absolutely get it back.

Without the bankruptcy, I don't know necessarily whether or not they'll ever get the money back.

I heard as of today all of a sudden they're having some problems. It looked like they weren't going to get it. Then yesterday it looked like they were absolutely going to get the money. And now it looks like there's probably a 50/50 chance one way or the other.

But if the government would think in terms of what they call "dip financing," where they would absolutely get their money back, and you'd be able to renegotiate everything.

And that's what they need, because they have such legacy costs, meaning costs that, you know, people that made cars 20 years ago are being paid today. How do you compete with foreign competitors when you do that?

I also happen to think that the American product is very good. I bought a truck yesterday for one of my projects. And the truck is beautiful. As good as any -- they really make a good pro duct.

I think part of the problem of these executives is they don't talk about the product that they make. Now, they were making the wrong product and they weren't going with the fuel-efficient things, and I think they'll do that.

But it's a very difficult thing. They don't like the "B" word. I think they probably should use it. I think they can make much better deals.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you drive?

TRUMP: Well, I drive a lot of different things. But I do drive also American cars. And I have many of my vehicles. In fact, I sort of insist you buy American, generally speaking, in my company. I like when you buy American.

But the Cadillac is a very good car. The Buick is a very good car. The Dodge trucks, the Dodge Ram trucks--I bought one of them yesterday through a friend of mine, a rego(ph) Dodge in Palm Beach, Florida. It's a great company.

VAN SUSTEREN: You drive both foreign and American.

TRUMP: I do both.

VAN SUSTEREN: But do you think American is a good idea to buy?

TRUMP: I see very little difference between the foreign, and nobody says that. but I see very little difference between the American and the foreign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fair to blame a lot of this on the CEOs as captains of the ship, because they're the figureheads? We see them driving the car, flying the corporate jets or driving the cars down to Washington. I mean, is it fair to say, look, you just -- you didn't do the job?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, two of them haven't been there very long.

VAN SUSTEREN: They knew what they were getting into, though.

TRUMP: The gentleman from Ford, who actually I met at one of my golf courses a long time ago, and he's a talented guy. He's just gotten there. He's been there a year and a half, two years.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's the curious thing is that Ford, in order to hire him from Boeing, paid $12 million extra. So you're seeing shareholder money, that $12 million could do a lot, but they couldn't find some better CEO that they didn't have to pay an extra $12 million for?

TRUMP: Well, they paid A-Rod a lot more than that, and they haven't done very well since they got him.

The fact is the Ford gentleman is a very talented guy. I think he's doing a very good job. But you can't blame him for what took place 20, 25 years ago, because this is years and years of some mistakes. Not all mistakes, but some mistakes.

Now Cerberus and the gentleman who used to run Home Depot--

VAN SUSTEREN: Bob Nardelli.

TRUMP: He's not there a long time either.

Wagoner at General Motors, I guess he has grown up in that culture. He's been there much longer, but he hasn't been running it that long.

I don't know. I can't tell you what to say other than you have three guys that are trying very, very hard.


VAN SUSTEREN: Up next, the banks. Don't forget about them. Donald's not happy about the government using your money to bail out some failing banks. Why? Because the banks that got your taxpayer money two months ago from your government may be pulling a fast one on you. Donald will tell you.

And, later, what in the world is Illinois going to do about filling that Senate seat? That may be easy to answer. Their governor may be charged, but he sure is not convicted. So, guess what, he could pick tonight. A full report is coming up.



VAN SUSTEREN: Now you go back to Trump Tower with none other than Donald Trump.

Now if the big three auto CEOs were on "The Apprentice," would Donald give them the boot?


VAN SUSTEREN: I don't dispute their good will, that they're good men, that they try hard, that they want the best. But if they were on "The Apprentice," would they be fired?

TRUMP: I would fire their ass. No, I am only kidding.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would they be fired?

TRUMP: Well, if you look at the results, the results are not so good.

VAN SUSTEREN: So would you fire them?

TRUMP: Excuse me. They haven't been there that long. I'd have to look at how long they've been there. Wagoner has been there quite a while. The other two really just got there.

Perhaps you would fire the gentleman from Chrysler because why the hell did they buy it in the first place? That's ruined it. They spent billions of dollars to buy this company, and when they bought it, I and other people said, why are they doing this? Daimler got very lucky when they got that taken off their hands.

So his bigger problem is why did they buy it in the first place, because it is a tough business. And nobody would have known we were going to go through this kind of a problem with the economy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk just briefly about these corporate golden parachutes. Bob Nardelli, who is CEO of Chrysler, was the CEO of Home Depot, got pushed out and got handed $221 million as he left. I don't know why $15 million or $20 million wouldn't have been enough for someone that's getting pushed out, but whatever.

Your thoughts on that?

TRUMP: Well, I thought that was terrible.

Now, I don't really know him. I spoke to him once or twice. In fact, I said you should put Trump product into your stores. He chose not to do it. Maybe that's why Home Depot didn't do as well as it should have done.

But he did get pushed out, and he did walk away with over $200 million. I think it's ridiculous, but that's what they chose to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't more than ridiculous, though?

TRUMP: In my opinion, it's more than ridiculous.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then Chrysler --

TRUMP: There's a difference. If you do a great job --

VAN SUSTEREN: Agreed. If you succeed--

TRUMP: There are some that did great jobs over the years, and I think they should become rich people, because that's really hard. But when you do a poor job and you walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars, give me a break.

I read where a major bank got billions of dollars. They went out and they just bought a bank from China for $6 billion. They spent $6 billion buying a bank from China. When they gave them that money, that money was supposed to be loaned to me and other people to go out build buildings or buy apartments--

VAN SUSTEREN: How about buy cars?

TRUMP: Or buy cars.

How about you take $6 billion, a big chunk what they got and they go, and they go out the following week and buy a bank in China? I don't understand it.

They're knocking the hell out of those guys because they traveled by jet. But why don't they say something about a bank that's handed billions of dollars and then they take a big chunk of it and buy a bank in China. What good does that do us in terms of getting people working?

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the Congress that gave them the money, or lent them the money to do that, without saying that you should do -- you should keep that money here at home? You shouldn't go out and buy a Chinese bank.

TRUMP: I have a bigger problem with that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what about that.

TRUMP: I have a much bigger problem. The banks are not lending. You can be the richest guy--me, anybody--you can be the richest guy. If I want to borrow two cents--if anybody wants to borrow money today, you can't. You can't.

By the way, you make a nice salary. You can't borrow money. If you go to a bank today, the banks are closed. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been given to the banks. You know what they are using it for? They're using it to buy other banks.

And you know what you're going to end up in this country, one big bank. It's going to be a giant bank. We'll call it the National Bank of America. It will be one bank. You have very few banks.

You used to have many banks all over New York. Now you have a few, and most of them have practically busted anyway. But with all of this money -- to me that's a bigger problem. And also--

VAN SUSTEREN: Couldn't Congress have done something about that?

TRUMP: You are talking about many times the size of $35 billion, by the way.

You and I think, are on the same thing with the cars. I say they have to chapter, they have to get rid of all their bad contracts, they have to start all over.

But keep the people working. They're great people. I think they're making good products. The products are going to get better. They're going to get more environmentally friendly. All the things they that have to do- -fuel efficient.

Of course with now oil going down, people start thinking about --

VAN SUSTEREN: The appetite changes.

TRUMP: Lots of bad things happen.

Frankly, there should be a tax on oil. There should be a tax on oil so that it stays at a certain level, and that hundreds of billions of dollars could come in.

Because the one problem -- I love seeing the oil go down and I love seeing what it does to OPEC, because it just absolutely kills them. The problem is all of the alternate energy--all of a sudden you are not hearing about the wind and the sun --

VAN SUSTEREN: The incentives changed.

TRUMP: They stop thinking about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Could Congress have done something about those loans to those banks so that we don't have the problem you--

TRUMP: Well, they should start by saying you cannot use this money to buy other banks, you cannot use this money to buy other banks in foreign countries. Excuse me. Buying other banks is bad. Buying a bank in China for $6 billion, explain that one to me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did Congress do that?

TRUMP: Inconceivable. There is no answer to it. Inconceivable. Why did the people that are running the money allow a big bank to buy another big bank from China? Explain it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it because the American people don't pay that -- they're so busy trying to put food on their table they don't pay attention in some ways to what Congress is doing when it comes to things like that? It's so astounding--

TRUMP: What is interesting to me is, the car companies, whether you like what they're doing or not, they're trying to kill these guys with restrictions. With the bankers, for much bigger money, they don't put any restrictions on them. They almost have no restrictions.

How do you go out and buy other banks instead of loaning money to people doing deals? This is -- we're supposed to get the economy going again.

Now, I think it's wonderful for China. You buy a bank in China, you force some people--the whole thing is crazy. So with the car companies, they want restrictions. With the bankers they don't.

Credit is the worst it's been since 1929. You can't get credit. There's no such thing getting a loan from a bank. With hundreds of billions of dollars being put into bank, how come you can't go out?

If Rupert, if anybody wants to go to a bank right now, the greatest people, the best, and they want to borrow money, zero. You can't get it. And yet hundreds of billions of dollars has been given to the banks to loan. You explain that to me.


VAN SUSTEREN: There's much more Donald Trump that we couldn't show you tonight. You have to watch the entire interview tomorrow. Go to and check it out. We're going to post the entire interview.

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