Donald Trump’s second book, “Trump: Surviving at the Top“, came out a few years after his widely read successful first book, “The Art Of The Deal”. Although entertaining, the newer book is mostly “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” meets People magazine, with more focus on glamour, name dropping, gossip, and how The Donald is at the center of it all. The real estate insights are much sparser than his first book. And because there are only a few years between books, the updates on recent activity are less meaty and bountiful. But it did serve the purpose of growing the Trump brand…
There are some additional New York City deals, including a wait-and-see game to purchase the Grand Hotel from a company while competing with other investors. His imprint on the design and focus on restoring it to a long-forgotten grandeur are important aspects of his take-over and rehab of the property and its image. He also enjoyed battling wits with Sister Cecilia to buy her Catholic organization’s valuable New York Foundling Hospital property, with the eventual idea of re-developing the property and setting her organization up to spread its mission elsewhere to benefit more people.
Trump expands upon his gambling business, though he talks more about Atlantic City boxing, Mike Tyson, Robin Givens, their divorce, and Don King than business angles or real estate plays. HIs gambling empire team makes an appearance, but focuses more on the untimely deaths of three key executives in a helicopter crash than on business take-aways or the dynamics of a well performing team. A bit more interesting is his back office maneuvering regarding a Resorts International take-over attempt, the Taj Mahal, and a public cock fight between Trump and Merv Griffin where Trump describes how he came out on top. He also goes into other Atlantic City maneuvers, including his purchase of the Atlantis and an in-process purchase of properties owned by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione.
Trump also goes into other business ventures such as his purchase of the Eastern Shuttle and its re-branding to Trump Shuttle, including a brief review of the downsides he experienced after taking control of the business.
He repeats an updated and re-constructed “week in the life of Donald Trump” chapter, which was apparently quite popular from his first book.
According to Trump the media loves to unfairly pounce on him, when they are not schizophrenically admiring him, and he outlines how to deal with it. As usual, he names names and makes some people look incompetent, unethical, or both. I suspect he publicly (and perhaps rightly) humiliates some people just so that others will treat him well in fear of being publicly chastised by Trump. When he describes Leona Helmsley as a “bitch on wheels”, there isn’t much diplomacy going on.
His divorce from Ivana Trump is described in detail, again pandering to the People magazine readers. He comes across as fair and reserved, though, and doesn’t use it as a platform to say in public what he should have said in private. Nonetheless, there is little content there from a real estate investing perspective except perhaps some lessons on how to better adapt to fame and fortune. Similarly, he goes into detail about his purchase and refurbishment of a luxurious super yacht. He admitted he bought it for holding parties and just because he could, though he eventually didn’t have much interest in it beyond that.
Overall, “Trump: Surviving At The Top” is interesting for people who are interested in Donald Trump. But the real estate food for thought is on the lean side.