The news that President-elect Donald Trump will be handing over control and ownership of his businesses to his two sons has angered many, prompting accusations of conflicted interests and unpresidential conduct. The Trump Organization, formerly known as Elizabeth Trump & Sons, was founded almost 100 years ago, and has come to include an extensive range of business enterprises. When considering some of the notable industries in which Donald Trump has vested interests, it’s clear to see why many are concerned with the president-elect’s ability to maintain an impartial outlook on business policy.
Real Estate & Hotels
The Trump family is undoubtedly most closely associated with real estate; the Trump Tower skyscraper being an iconic symbol of their real property ventures. The tower, which functions as the organization’s headquarter, is filled with apartments, shops and offices. The organization’s portfolio includes properties in nine states (most notably New York) and has expanded to include luxury properties in Canada, India, Turkey, the Philippines and South Korea. Some of the most expensive properties in the entire US were sold by Trump. Besides real estate, the Trump Organization is also heavily involved in the hotel industry; owning several hotels and licensing the Trump name to other resorts around the world. The organization’s hotel business is undergoing more growth than any other of its ventures, with new hotels continuing to open around the world.
Closely connected to Trump’s hotel business are his ventures in the casino industry. Most famous is the Trump TajMahal Casino in Atlantic City – the 1990 acquisition of which he detailed in the biographical book ‘The Art of the Deal’. The casino became culturally iconic; featured in movies such as ‘Rounders’ and ‘Badmaash Company’. Despite its legacy, the casino has filed for bankruptcy on numerous occasions and has been the centre of many lawsuits after accusations by the US Department of Treasury after it found evidence of money laundering and violations. The Trump TajMahal regained some popularity after PokerStars, one of the main online poker sites, hosted a tournament in its casino. Just a few weeks before the 2016 election, however, the casino closed. There are plans for its reopening in the spring of 2017, but few details have yet been verified.
The organization owns and operates around 18 golf courses around the world – many of which have been designed by famous golfers. Trump is known to be fond of the sport and is often photographed playing golf at his own luxurious golf resorts. One of the most famous golf courses in the world is the Trump Turnberry in Scotland which has hosted multiple high profile tournaments. The Trump Organization has plans to build two more golf courses in Dubai in the near future.
The Trump University purported to equip business students with skills relating to real estate, asset management, entrepreneurship and wealth creation. It was marketed as an education facility filled only with lecturers hand-picked by Trump himself.The for-profit school, however, has been shrouded in controversies ever since it opened. It has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and branded a scam by many of those who attended the expensive courses. Its marketing practises were deemed misleading, and the university was accused of aggressive sales tactics. It also transpired that the lecturers had not in fact been handpicked by Trump. Before being elected to the presidency, Trump settles three of the lawsuits against his university for $25 million.
Trump Ice Water
Arguably the most bizarre out of all Trump ventures – Donald Trump lent his brand (and face) to a bottled water line which was sold in supermarkets across the US until becoming exclusive to Trump’s hotels and golf courses. The so-called ‘Trump Ice’ was featured in the first season of The Apprentice, when contestants were tasked with selling the water. Kelly Perdew, the winner, became the executive vice president of Trump Ice.
Trump’s name can be seen in big, bold letters on hotels, casinos and resorts around the world – a fact he has often pointed out when bragging about his wealth. But is the president-elect as rich as he claims, or does his showmanship outdo his business skills? Whilst Trump claims he is worth $10 billion, there is no real way of knowing the real extent of his fortune until he releases his tax statements. Forbes has estimated his net worth to be closer to $3.7 billion – much of which is inherited wealth. No matter his exact net worth, there’s no denying that his business ventures have been fraught with lawsuits, controversies and bankruptcies throughout his business career. Let’s hope he approaches the presidency with different tactics…