125 Influential People and Ideas
Donald J. Trump

1896

Through a Wharton fellowship, W.E.B. DuBois undertook his classic study of the social and economic conditions of urban blacks.

The Best Known Brand Name in Real Estate

Donald J. Trump, W’68

It would be difficult to find a more ubiquitous public business figure of the late 20th and early 21st centuries than Donald Trump. His name graces casinos in Atlantic City, condos and commercial buildings in New York, TV shows, best-selling books, resorts, television programs, and even a Muppet on Sesame Street.

Trump took a successful real estate development business started by his father, Fred, and turned it into a multi-faceted company. Along the way, Trump’s style has produced doubters, but no one could deny his ability to brand his products, and to rise, phoenix-like, from everything from corporate travails to satire.

Trump’s main areas of operation have been in Manhattan, where he is said to control 18 million square feet of real estate, and Atlantic City, where his Trump Organization runs three casinos, all with his name on them — Trump Plaza, Trump Marina, and Trump Taj Mahal.

Trump’s main areas of operation have been in Manhattan, where he is said to control 18 million square feet of real estate, and Atlantic City, where his Trump Organization runs three casinos.

He got his start when he turned a big profit on a Cincinnati apartment complex his father assigned him after his Wharton graduation in 1968. He then made use of tax credits the New York City government was doling out in the 1970s to build his portfolio of Manhattan real estate.

Trump became a celebrity beyond his business dealings with his casino and high-end Manhattan residential investments, successfully courting the press and using television to his advantage. He developed a reality show with NBC, The Apprentice, in which he offered the winner of business challenges a six-figure job in his organization. At the end of most episodes, he eliminated a contestant with “You’re fired,” which became a catch-word for viewers.

Trump has had brand-name clothing, bottled water, vodka, golf courses, ice cream, and a travel website. He co-owns the Miss Universe pageant with NBC, and has appeared at motivational seminars for a reported $1 million a shot. He has written several books, starting with Trump: The Art of the Deal, and is a constant guest star on network TV shows, recently earning a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Even when he plays himself, each performance is a tour de force.