If Trump is such a success, why does everything he touches fail?
TRUMP AIRLINES - In October 1988, Donald Trump threw his wallet into the airline business by purchasing Eastern Air Shuttle, a service that for 27 years had run hourly flights between Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. For roughly $365 million, Trump got a fleet of 17 Boeing 727s, landing facilities in each of the three cities and the right to paint his name on an airplane. But his gamble was a bust. A lack of increased interest from customers combined with high pre–Gulf War fuel prices meant the shuttle never turned a profit. The high debt forced Trump to default on his loans, and ownership of the company was turned over to creditors. The Trump Shuttle ceased to exist in 1992.
TRUMP CASINOS - Donald Trump's gambles don't always go as planned. Especially when that gamble is gambling itself. In February 2009, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the third time in a row — an extremely rare feat in American business. The casino company, founded in the 1980s, runs the Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Marina. Trump defended himself by distancing himself from the company, though he owned 28% of its stock. "Other than the fact that it has my name on it — which I'm not thrilled about — I have nothing to do with the company," he said. He resigned from Trump Entertainment soon after that third filing, but in August of that year he, and an affiliate of Beal Bank Nevada, agreed to buy the company for $100 million.
TRUMP MARRIAGES - Donald Trump's life in the bedroom has been messy at best. The real estate magnate married his first wife, Ivana, in 1977, but things got rocky after Trump's affair with actress Marla Maples surfaced in New York City tabloids. "You bitch, leave my husband alone!" Ivana told Maples on a ski trip in Aspen, Colo. Ivana's warning fell on deaf ears, and in 1992, Trump left her with a reported $25 million settlement and married his mistress one year later. His marriage to Maples was even shorter-lived, and the couple divorced in 1999. These days, Trump is married to Slovenian supermodel Melania Knauss.
TRUMP MORTGAGE - In April 2006, Trump announced that, after years in the real estate business, he was launching a mortgage company. He held a glitzy press conference at which his son Donald Jr. predicted that Trump Mortgage would soon be the nation's No. 1 home-loan lender. Trump told CNBC, "Who knows more about financing than me?" Apparently, plenty. Within a year and a half, Trump Mortgage had closed shop. The would-be lending powerhouse was done in by timing (the housing market cratered in 2007) and ironically enough, given Trump's Apprentice TV show, poor hiring. The executive Trump selected to run his loan company, E.J. Ridings, claimed to have been a top executive at a prestigious investment bank. In reality, Ridings' highest role on Wall Street was as a registered broker, a position he held for a mere six days.
TRUMP UNIVERSITY - They hoped to get rich off real estate, so they enrolled in Donald Trump’s University to learn the tricks of the trade, some of them maxing out their credit cards to pay tens of thousands of dollars for insider knowledge they believed could make them wealthy.
Do you remember Trump University? Probably not — founded in 2005, it didn’t really catch on. And one big reason it didn’t catch on is because it was a total scam, say former students in complaints that were filed to the Federal Trade Commission and were unearthed by a Freedom of Information Act recently requested by Gizmodo.
“I want my $35,000+ back. All I got was books that I could have gotten from the library that could guide me better then Trump’s class did." Another grievance describes a strategy reminiscent of Scientology. After paying $1,495 for a three-day seminar, which provided information freely available on Zillow, “attendees were told that unless they purchased additional products (software; individual coaching) they would not succeed,” the complaint states.
In 2013, the New York Attorney General’s office filed a $40 million lawsuit against the former reality star and current Republican presidential candidate for failing to impart the promised real estate education on 5,000 students and subjecting prospective students to high-pressure sales tactics. In April 2015, a judge ruled that Trump was indeed personally responsible and that the matter would go to trial. A class-action suit against Trump related to Trump University is also pending.
TRUMP VODKA - Trump vodka was introduced in 2006 to much fanfare. At the time, Trump predicted the T&T (Trump and Tonic) would become the most requested drink in America. On Larry King Live, he said he got into the vodka business to outdo his friends at Grey Goose. Ten years later, Grey Goose is still on top shelves throughout the country. As for Trump vodka? Yeah, we'd never heard of it either. The New York City blog Gothamist reported the vodka stopped production "because the company failed to meet the threshold requirements." In 2011, Trump's company filed an injunction to prevent an ISRAELI company from selling Trump vodka without his consent or authorization. Meaning the Donald stopped the only people in world who wanted to drink his vodka from doing so.
CHINA CONNECTION - "The problem with our country is we don't manufacture anything anymore," Donald Trump told Fox News recently. "The stuff that's been sent over from China," he complained, "falls apart after a year and a half. It's crap." That very same Donald Trump has his own line of clothing, and it's made in ... China. (OK, OK — not all of it. Salon, which reported this intriguing, head-scratching fact, notes that some of his apparel is from MEXICO and Bangladesh.)
BANKRUPTCIES - Donald Trump brags about how well his businesses have fared. Yet, no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump's casino empire in the last 30 years[*].
In 1990, the banking institutions that backed his real estate investments had to bail him out with a $65 million "rescue package" that contained new loans and credit. But it wasn't enough, and in 1991 the famous developer was nearly $4 billion in debt and his famous Taj Mahal casino had to file bankruptcy, [with another bankruptcy for Trump Castle Associates being filed in 1992*]. Trump's economic troubles continued through the '90s, while he was personally leveraged to nearly $1 billion. In 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts also filed for bankruptcy. In 2009, the same company (by then renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc.) filed for bankruptcy again.