Donald John Trump is an American business executive. He was born in New York City. His grandfather came from Sweden. Donald's father, Fred, became rich with the building of rental barracks in the NY boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Trump attended the Wharton Business School, after which he joined the family real estate business. As a talented dealmaker, he was able to secure loans with little collateral in the 1980s and created an empire in real estate, casinos, sports, and transportation, becoming something of a celebrity in the process. His buildings are all characterized by a somewhat satirical personality cult around himself. The name "Trump" always appears in the name of his buildings (Trump Tower, Trump Taj Mahal, etc.) and often the decor features large letter "T"s in prominent locations.
By 1990, the effects of recession left him unable to meet loan payments. Although he shored up his businesses with additional loans and postponed interest payments, increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy and the brink of personal bankruptcy. Banks and bondholders had lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but opted to restructure his debt to avoid risking losing even more in a court fight.
By 1994, Trump had eliminated a large portion of his $900 million personal debt and reduced significantly his nearly $3.5 billion in business debt. While he was forced to relinquish the Trump Shuttle (which he had bought in 1989), he managed to retain Trump Tower in New York City and control of his three casinos in Atlantic City.
In 1995, he combined his casino holdings into the publicly held Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Wall Street drove its stock above $35 in 1996, but by 1998 it had fallen into single digits as the company remained profitless and struggled to pay just the interest on its nearly $2 billion in debt. Under such financial pressure, the properties have been unable to make the improvements necessary for keeping up with its flashier competitors.
In 1999, Trump indicated an interest in running for president on the Reform party ticket in 2000. He withdrew after the party disintegrated into factionalism.
In 2004, Trump became the executive producer and star of the NBC reality show, The Apprentice, in which a group of competitors battle for a high-level management job in one of Trump's commercial enterprises. The other contestants are fired. The winner of the program earns a $250,000 annual salary. At the end of each episode, Trump eliminates one contestant by telling them, "You're fired," which became a somewhat popular catch phrase.
On April 26, 2004, he proposed to his girlfriend, Melania Knauss.
Donald Trump is most famous for several large skyscrapers he developed in Manhattan and named after himself. Starting with Trump Tower, he developed Trump World Tower along the East River, completed in 2000, and then began construction of the Trump Place apartment complex along the Hudson River that same year.