In 1995-1996 while Trump was premiering his show, I, fresh out of college, was hired as a PR and Marketing Director for a large Telco company. Doran, a self-proclaimed millionaire, hired me on the spot while we both got stuck in an elevator. I threw few witty comebacks and suggestions about advertising. He exclaimed “Oh my, you are pretty and smart, I need someone to represent me, has to be good looking and loyal. If you’re a loyal woman, you got the job!” which was a flattering, insulting, and an unsolicited offer in one. Credulous, eager to get the “job of my dreams” after few diners and few glasses of wine, feeling important – humbled by the attention of a successful businessman, I accepted.
I wasn’t the only one. Doran’s main talent was charming his audience with flattery and promises he knew he couldn’t deliver. He could also successfully recognized the value in other people’s ideas. Then he would claim he was the sole proprietor of those ideas and brag to the same people he stole from and so, drove them apeshit mad.
But his best yet was to manipulate the employees, that naïvely followed him around like puppies, myself included, to do his bidding: seduce, bribe, extort, bully vendors or partners into or out of business deals. And this emotional Ponzi scheme was very lucrative. While he maintained plausible deniability, he profited from the fruits of his staff’s long work hours and lived a lavish lifestyle. He kept two or three mistresses in luxury with the money he withheld from paying his 200+ employees. I burnt bridges and made enemies as he pointed his tiny fingers at me, blaming me for his mistakes. I tried to rationalize and find excuses until, as it happens to most people walking on the thin line dividing the ethical field into right or wrong, he decided I was no longer a friend but a foe.
We went to a Christmas party, both invited by common acquaintances. There I met a different group of advertisers I wanted to network with so I “jumped ship” to another party for an hour. Doran called me every 15 minutes wondering if I closed the deal, and to ask me why I was taking so long. Upon my return, he asked me to follow him to his office, where he attempted to force me to strip and give him a blowjob.
No explanation or anything. I started to cry immediately. I was in a state of shock.
I begged him to reconsider our relationship, as he was I thought, my friend but also my mentor. He buckled the belt of his pants and explained that I needed a lesson in humility- since he felt I betrayed him. My tears convinced him, I just made an honest mistake. “You’re a good girl, and I see that – just don’t act as if your livelihood doesn’t depend on me. I need to know beyond any doubt that you are loyal” he said and shoved two $100 bills in my clutched hand. “Buy yourself something pretty, and for the cab,” he said when I argued I didn’t want the money.
That night was my breaking point. Before Doran, I was fortunate enough to have had another boss, a Jewish man from South Africa, that treated me with the utmost respect and believed in my potential, alongside my supportive feminist-minded father. I thought I should never have to sleep with someone to get something in exchange, that as a woman, my ideas, my vision, my skills have as much value to the world as a man’s. Next day, I left the company.
Coming from a patriarchal society, where women catered to men’s wishes, seen as second-hand citizens, my refusal to cave into the mentality that plagued my generation (close your eyes, bite your tongue, roll on your back, endure), was in the opinion of those around me, including Doran, an act of foolish bravado. He cursed at me and swore, ” you’ll never work in this town again.”
The experience indeed “taught me a lesson” but a different one than Doran intended. I learned to look beyond flattery, promises, the facade of power and money, beyond my own selfish goals and stick with my ethics come hell or high water. It also helped me identify his “type” and that prove useful whenever someone tried to sell me a bridge or make me an offer too good to be true.
Before 2016, I seldom heard of Trump. Stalking B-listed celebrities online wasn’t my thing. My fascination with golden fixtures didn’t venture beyond the accidental MTV Cribs episode – when I thought, my, this man wants to recreate the Versailles, what a wasteful nut. But I get it. The Americans have made a mental ritual in escaping reality. Living by proxy of Hollywood is an all-time American hobby.
Trump, obsessing over the “je ne sais quoi” that makes “a star” surrounded himself with beautiful people to make himself more attractive. Filled his condo with gold leaf to look rich, to project success. It was a cunning marketing scheme. If he could transform his business into show business, he’d tie in the legacy of his father’s shady dealings, promote them, repeat the “fib” over and over until the public would accustom to the idea that being crooked, unethical and a braggart was “business as usual.” And so, “The Apprentice” was born.
I endured watching few episodes. What I saw confirmed my suspicion that for “The Donald,” the appearance of knowledge and wealth weighted more than correct entrepreneurial vision or leadership skills.
Seemed that the entirety of the series riveted around the tragicomedy of a man with a super tan, that hired and fired people on a whim, subject to his ego. Flattery pacified his vile temper and augmented it by the opposition, whereas profit margins and nothing else dictated ethical areas. Unlike Rockefeller, Trump’s greediness wasn’t measured nor served a shred of a higher, charitable purpose but to promote his brand and make himself look “savvy” and “smart.” I wasn’t the only one thinking that.
What was hiding behind the tanning booth? For starters, according to what I was seeing and reading, Trump followed his father’s steps, who groomed him to became a slumlord and a mobster. I chose this words knowingly that Trump’s upbringing and his entourage had a profound impact on his character and explained how he would perceive unethical, unprofessional, and morally corrupt social behavior as norms he believes, “everyone” abides by.
Both of Trump’s parents came from needy, immigrant families and modest beginning.He took his mother’s “Great Gatsby” ascension from being a domestic servant to a wealthy socialite – as something smart, shrewd, and admirable. Just like his mother, he didn’t figure out the real way of the truly rich – the art of the understatement and grew to despise poverty.
He has shown his contempt in extravagant, over the top, dramatic moves perhaps to splash a coat of paint on top of his insecurities. As children learn the most from their parents, I wonder what kind of atmosphere he observed at home, to develop into a mean bully, a rebellious “my way or the highway” teenager that was sent away to a military boarding school? Was it to squash that natural rebellion against the rigidity and severity of an unloving home – or, seeing that his temperament was out of control – his loving parents – thought to instill a sense of discipline? Who knows?
Mary Ann’s clinical nature and desire to succeed above her class was the root of some of Trump’s most significant flaws. Mary herself thought she might have inspired an amoral, greedy, selfish streak in her son. .
“How can you say you love us? You don’t love us! You don’t even love yourself. You just love your money,” twelve-year-old Donald junior told his father, according to friends of Ivana’s.
“What kind of son have I created?” Trump’s mother, Mary, is said to have asked Ivana.
It can also explain his disconnect to women – and failed marriages – where he understands “gold diggers” and respects the women’s drive to obtain status through marrying rich by merely having galls and looks- but also he deals with them on strict terms and as a business transaction.
Unlike his brothers and sisters, Trump’s goal was to prove himself in the eyes of his father and emulated his ruthlessness and “be a killer, and you are a king” attitude in business. An excellent article on this subject here.
His father’s counselor, Roy Cohn a man engulfed in extremist views, of insufferable nature, that was disbarred after a suite of allegations of bribery, misconduct, obstruction, etc. was Trump’s most entrusted mentor.
“Federal investigations during the 1970s and 1980s charged Cohn three times with professional misconduct, including perjury and witness tampering. He was accused in New York of financial improprieties related to city contracts and private investments. He was acquitted of all charges. In 1986, a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court disbarred Cohn for unethical and unprofessional conduct, including misappropriation of clients’ funds, lying on a bar application, and pressuring a client to amend his will.
“You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. Cohn’s power derived largely from his ability to scare potential adversaries with hollow threats and spurious lawsuits. And the fee he demanded for his services? Ironclad loyalty.
There are many other well-documented examples that I will expand on later. An excellent article about Trump’s family fortunes and dealings can be read here
Other articles about Fred Trump, and Trump’s family mob connections.
From the Washington Post, 2015
And last, but not least (in a vast suite of articles on the topic, all pre-2016) which we chose to ignore, never made it to the public spotlight/ mass media or were brushed under the rug of a general “laisser faire” (myself, as declared, included ).
Trump’s political aspirations expanded through decades. The circle went something like this – financial problems/insolvency – running for the presidency with whatever party gullible enough to consider him suited for their platform.
This timeline from the TV Guide (of all places) says it best.
Though Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign has thus far been a series of unfortunate events, this isn’t the real estate mogul’s first time at the election rodeo. Since the late 1980s, Trump has threatened, with varying degrees of seriousness, to enter the race.
Here is a timeline of Trump’s history in politics:
1987-1988: Trump considers a run for president, while simultaneously juggling large debts stemming from his purchase of the Taj Mahal casino.
2000: Trump enters the presidential race as a Reform Party candidate and receives more than 15,000 votes in the party’s California primary.
2003-2004: Trump begins hosting the reality show The Apprentice on NBC, which he also executive-produces. He again mulls a run for president, but ultimately decides not to join the race.
March 2011: A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows Trump leading all presidential contenders, including Mitt Romney.
April 2011: Amid more research polls indicating that he would be the preferred Republican presidential candidate among voters, Trump repeatedly calls for President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate, questioning whether Obama was actually born in the United States. (Obama eventually complies and releases the birth certificate.)
May 2011: Trump officially announces that he will not run for president.
February 2012: Trump endorses Republican candidate Mitt Romney for president.
2013: Trump forms a presidential exploratory committee and, despite a strong backing from Republican voters, announces that he has no interest in running for governor of New York in 2014.
February 2015: Trump decides not to renew his Apprentice contract, fueling speculation that he’s mulling a run for president.
June 2015: Trump formally announces that he’s running for president in a speech delivered from Trump Tower in New York City. Almost immediately, corporations and individuals that have partnerships with Trump – including Macy’s, NBC and Univision – begin to sever ties with the mogul because of disparaging comments he made about Mexicans in the speech announcing his candidacy.
July 2015: Trump comes under fire after revealing Republican rival Lindsey Graham’s phone number of live TV and criticizing John McCain for being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
So Trump wasn’t new to politics. But his approach was. A cash cow scheme built on aggressive branding and marketing. One of the most illuminating interviews that describe Trump’s political appetite, his agenda and his methods: here.
From the same interview
- ” I know politicians, I know them better than you are (Dan Rather) and you interview them all the time… Some are dumber than a rock”
- ” In his own mind, besides his ego, I think he sees it as helping his business” -Jack Trout, marketing expert.
- Dan Rather: “What better way to promote your brand than running as president?” Trump: “I haven’t changed my opinion on you (*grudges *cough*) but I won’t be surprised if I said yes.”
Those above-presented reasons were the ones mentioned here in the “about” section of the site.
Post-May 2016, the reasons kept stacking up. I’m discussing them here and here and here.