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50 Minutes In The Oval Office With Citizen Trump – And Barely A Word About His Money

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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.

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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.

West Africa’s Donald Trump?

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 

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US President attacks SA’s land expropriation intentions, rand slides

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South Africa’s land expropriation without compensation intentions have caught the attention of United States President Donald Trump.

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One on One With Naledi Pandor SA Minister of Higher Education

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Forbes Woman Africa’s Godfrey Mutizwa chats with Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training to discuss her plans for youth and enterprise development as to create jobs and get South Africa thriving.

READ MORE: The Future In Her Hands

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The People’s President

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Liberia president George Weah

It’s been quite an ascent for George Weah – from international football star to president of his country, Liberia. He was sworn in on January 22 to a crowd of adoring supporters who voted for a change, as well as heads of states and football stars, including Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o.

From one of Monrovia’s poorest slums, Weah made a name for himself as a talented footballer at Monaco at the age of 21, and went on to play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, such as Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan. He won the prestigious Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year awards in 1995. During his illustrious career that ended in 2003 he also led Liberia’s national team. Musa Shannon, a Liberian businessman and former teammate with Liberia’s national team says Weah’s temperament on and off the field was unparalleled.

“He was inspirational and expected nothing but excellence from all his teammates. He was able to get the best out of everyone. He never took shortcuts.”

Considered the choice of the masses, Weah’s humble beginnings combined with his international celebrity status earned him tremendous support from the mostly youthful Liberian population, especially the poor. In the December run-off elections, Weah easily earned 61.5% of the votes over then Vice-President Joseph Boakai.

“He is the people’s president, he is the one they have chosen,” says Shannon.

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Weah’s win marks the first peaceful transition in decades for the Liberian people. “We have arrived at this transition neither by violence, nor by force of arms. Not a single life was lost in the process… this transition was achieved by the free and democratic will of the Liberian people,” said Weah in his inauguration speech.

Although he moved from sport to politics, the transition hasn’t been sudden, nor without struggle. In 2005, Weah ran unsuccessfully against Noble Laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who made history as the first democratically-elected female African president. Through his party, the Congress for Democratic Change, Weah ran again in 2011 as running-mate to Winston Tubman, losing again to Johnson Sirleaf.

Citing inexperience and a lack of formal education as the main reason for his losses, Weah earned a degree in business and took a seat on the senate in 2014.

“People speak of George Weah as though he doesn’t have a political history, so that if he doesn’t succeed they will say he was new to the game,” says Ezekiel Pajibo, political analyst and human rights activist. “He has been in politics for 12 years and there is no evidence of anything he has done for the Liberian people.”

Expectations are high. Weah promised jobs for the youth and poverty alleviation. Of Liberia’s 4.6 million inhabitants, over 60% are under 25, many of whom voted for him in the hopes of a quick reduction in unemployment.

He inherits a country that has survived two bloody civil wars between 1989 and 2003, a fledgling economy and a young population that is largely unemployed. The Ebola epidemic, which killed over 5,000 people, also showed cracks in the healthcare system. The country still does not have adequate running water or electricity since the civil war, and properly staffed schools remain a problem.

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In his inauguration speech, he made a series of promises.

Firstly, he would stamp out corruption. Secondly, he would assist the private sector. Weah says he wants Liberians to stop being “spectators” in their economy while foreigners control the majority of their resources. Thirdly, he will focus on vocational training for the youth.

Promises must be followed by action. His party has been criticized by the opposition for not clearly outlining how these goals will be achieved.

There are also doubts about Weah garnering the same amount of respect from the international community as his predecessor. “He has to exude leadership capability and have presence in front of the international community. Johnson Sirleaf, as the first female president in Africa, brought international goodwill towards Liberia. She also had a history of working in development structures. President George Weah has none of that,” says Pajibo.

Weah achieved more than was expected of him as a footballer. Liberians will be hoping he can do the same as their country’s president. – Written by Lamelle Shaw

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