FORBES and Donald Trump. Talk about a complicated relationship. It’s been so for 35 years, since the birth of The Forbes 400. First, he was Playboy Trump. Then, The Donald. Then, Republican-candidate Trump. As New York’s ringmaster extraordinaire, he loved our rich list–until the newest one came out. Then he hated it, or at least the number we pinned on him. It was always too low–or “very low,” as only he can say it. As legend goes, it was so low one year he had words with the Forbes family.
Now, as president of the United States, he sent signals he wanted another Forbes cover (his fourth solo cover), much like celebrities rack up hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live. In the midst of a national tragedy, hurricanes and his early morning Twitter fisticuffs, he was ready to make the time. We were ready to oblige – in return for an interview focused on the first business president. Forbes and Trump. Maybe it’s more of a functional codependency.
Trump is Trump. He will always be so, whether sitting behind a majestic desk in the Oval Office, where we talked with him last week, or at the “very best” table at Jean-Georges, a three-star Michelin restaurant in the Trump International Hotel & Tower adjacent to Columbus Circle, where he took me to lunch several years ago. Yet this time he feigned no interest in his billions. No accountant was in tow to prove his net worth. Surrounding him this day were paintings, sculptures and writings of Washington and Lincoln. During our 50-minute interview he never asked what the number would be, sparing us a tongue-lashing and an inaugural-crowd-like media brouhaha.
America’s CEO for ten months, Trump’s unique C-suite mind has upended all White House norms, yet his new responsibilities humbled him for a split second–“Nothing prepares you for … when you send missiles, that means people are going to die. And nothing prepares you for that.” That can make it a “lonely” job, he says. He certainly snapped to life as our camera crew walked in. Remember, he is the master of his own image and was fixated on the photography.
And he loves his current real estate, even though it can never really be his. The president joyfully showed our editor, Randall Lane, and me a bit of his new stomping grounds–a well-appointed terrace, a now-covered pool, a fabled room and the beautiful golf-course-like greenery outside his Oval Office window. He seemed as proud of the landscape as he is of Mar-a-Lago. From the Big Apple to the nation’s capital, Forbes and Trump live on. – Written by ,