Donald Trump may have lost the US Presidency and been kicked off Twitter, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he has disappeared completely. If there is one quality that Donald Trump possesses in abundance it is ‘stickability’.
Donald Trump ‘the greatest businessman in the history of the world!’ That’s not a direct quote by the way but it sure sounds like something he would have said. He may still have a hard-on for the Presidency but in the meantime, a billionaire’s gotta make a buck right?
The ‘Donald’ has a long and (in)distinguished record of business ventures throughout his life. It is fair to say that he has, or has had his fingers in many pies. The diversity of his business deals over the years is nothing short of astounding. So let’s take a look at some of his most intriguing business ventures, some abject failures, and let’s be honest a few absolute turkeys!
#10 Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel, Atlantic City
There is nothing really ‘wacky’ about owning a casino, which is why the Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City is number 10 on our list. However, the Taj Mahal makes our list entirely due to its spectacular mismanagement and ultimate bankruptcy.
To give you some idea of the scale of the disaster that was the Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel the property was sold in 2015 following a bankruptcy hearing to a Florida investor for $50,000,000. That sounds like a significant chunk of change until you compare it to the $1,200,000,000 that it cost Donald Trump to build a couple of decades earlier.
What makes the story of the Taj Mahal even more interesting is that it went bankrupt not once but twice. It had previously gone bust in 2009, and both Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump resigned from the board. However, at the bankruptcy hearing, Donald Trump managed to negotiate a deal whereby the Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel remained operating under the Trump brand and was able to sell Trump merchandise and be supplied by Trump-owned companies and subsidiaries. This included spending more than $250,000 per year on Trump bottled water (more on this later) and the use of the Donald Trump jet to ferry VIP players from around the world.
One of the reasons for the demise of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel was ironically one of Trump’s big successes. The casino was built largely using money that Donald Trump borrowed from other investors. In truth, he invested little of his own money in the project. Meanwhile, though he withdrew millions in salaries, bonuses, and supply contracts whilst simultaneously funneling millions more of personal debt through the casino’s books.
So, despite successfully channeling money out of the property into other Trump-owned companies, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel, due to its multiple bankruptcies and the fact that it sold for just ¢4 on the $ will go down as one of the casino industry’s biggest-ever turkeys.
#9 Trump University
It goes without saying that a man who once said of himself “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest–and you all know it!” Should probably go on to open a University. So he did!
The Trump University ran a real estate training program between 2005 and 2010. It was not successful. Many of the University’s own employees considered the Donald Trump seat of learning to be a scam. A senior legal executive in New York State even went so far as to describe Trump University as “a classic bait-and-switch scheme!”
Trump University claimed to offer graduate programs, postgraduate programs, and doctorates. In fact, it did little more than offer Donald’s own personal insight and tips into how to make money in real estate.
Eventually, it became the subject of not one, but two, class-action lawsuits in the USA. Donald Trump ended up settling both, for a sum exceeding $25,000,000 in 2016, shortly after being elected President of the USA.
#8 Trump Mortgage LLC
It makes perfect sense for a man involved in the real estate business his entire life, that diversifying into mortgages would be a shrewd move. Nope!
Trump Mortgage LLC was officially launched in April 2006. It quickly established licenses in 25 states throughout the USA. Its growth was so rapid that it justifiably labeled itself as the ‘fastest-growing commercial and residential mortgage company in the United States.’
The company ceased trading on August 5, 2007.
#7 New Jersey Generals
Other than casinos, real estate, and money what does Donald Trump love? No. Not Melania! I mean really love. American Football of course!
The year is 1983. Donald Trump embarks on one of his most audacious ventures ever. He invests $10,000,000 of his own money to buy the New Jersey Generals, a fledgling team in the newly formed USFL.
But Donald Trump being Donald Trump he doesn’t plan on remaining in the second tier of US Football. He has his sights firmly set on the NFL and taking on the big boys.
“I don’t know about the rest of you people and I don’t know how much money you guys have, but I have the money to get into the NFL,” Trump was reported as saying at an owners meeting.
Sadly for Donald Trump, it didn’t turn out that way. Despite all his wealth, he was unable to get the New Jersey Generals into the NFL. The USFL went on to collapse a few years later, due largely to Donald Trump’s insistence that the league move from playing in the Spring (when there is no NFL) to playing in the fall (autumn) to compete directly against the NFL.
This decision led to yet another classic Trumpism “If God wanted football in the spring, he wouldn’t have created baseball,”
#6 Donald Trump – The Magazine
Sooner or later Donald Trump was always going to set himself up as a publishing icon in the vein of Rupert Murdoch.
Between 1997 and 2002 ‘Trump Style’ was distributed around his real estate properties. However, it wasn’t until 2003 that he began to take things a bit more seriously with the introduction of Trump World Magazine.
In 2006 the magazine underwent a major rebrand and a change of direction and was launched as Trump magazine. This iteration was positioned as a major lifestyle magazine, and not unsurprisingly, heavily featured Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump. It was initially successful too and early issues quickly sold out.
However, by 2009 steadily decreasing advertising sales led to the magazine’s eventual closure.
#5 Donald Trump Vodka. Nazdrovya!
Coming in a bottle more ostentatious than a Liberace stage costume, Trump vodka was launched in the US in 2005.
Donald Trump claimed it would outsell Grey Goose vodka around the world (well, he would, wouldn’t he) but it never did. It did last for six years though, which is not a bad shelf life for a Donald Trump-branded product. It also sold remarkably well in Israel, especially during Passover!
Sadly, Trump vodka was discontinued as a brand in 2011.
#4 Trump Ice – Natural Spring Water
Not the sort of thing that you want to be mixing with a glass of Trump vodka, but very refreshing nonetheless. Trump Ice was natural spring water that was initially only sold at Trump-owned casinos.
Later, it would get wider distribution through US grocery chains. This was because in Trump’s own words “it is so good that people want to buy cases of it.”
That may have been true but the brand was eventually discontinued in 2010, although you can still find Trump Ice at Trump-owned hotels, restaurants, and golf clubs.
#3 Fly Donald Trump
Out of all of Donald Trump’s many, many business ventures, perhaps the most spectacular fail was that of Trump airlines.
in 1989 Donald Trump secured an investment of $365,000,000 to purchase the Eastern Airlines shuttle service, flying from New York’s La Guardia airport to Logan International in Boston, and Ronald Reagan airport in Washington.
In August of the same year, a shuttle flight arriving in Boston suffered nose gear failure and crash-landed at Logan International. Although there were no fatalities customer confidence was shaken. Donald Trump, to his credit, tried to allay these fears by traveling on the very next flight into Logan.
It didn’t help. Customer numbers started to plummet massively from November 1989 and the company was never profitable. The situation was exacerbated by the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq which led to fuel prices doubling overnight.
By 1992 Donald Trump was forced to sell the company with $135,000,000 in liabilities.
#2 Trump on Your Plate
It’s well documented that Donald Trump loves a good steak. He likes them so much he brought out his own range of Trump-branded steaks.
Trump steaks were sold exclusively in the USA through the QVC and Sharper Image shopping channels. Donald Trump described them as “the world’s greatest steaks!” The public did not agree. Sharper Image stopped selling Trump steaks after only two months and QVC followed suit not long after.
This is what happens when you do your own market research. You never really know what customers are saying about your company.
#1 Donald Trump the Board Game!
If this is not the most absurd piece of silliness you have ever heard then you must be living in Sillyland. Donald Trump the board game!
In some ways it makes sense, following on from the highly successful Apprentice TV series, but really? A board game!
The original game was released way back in 1989 (way before the Apprentice aired) and sold poorly. Only 800,000 copies sold from an issue of 2 million.
Trump the game was re-released in 2004 to take advantage of the popularity of the Apprentice with which Donald Trump was indelibly linked. Distributed by Parker Brothers, the game’s tagline was “It Takes Brains to Make Millions. It Takes Trump to Make Billions.” Catchy!
Yet despite a positive reaction from game players this version too failed to sell. Trump, the game is not on general sale anymore, although you can still buy a copy of Trump the game from Amazon for the eye-watering sum of £52.99. Could be worth a punt too as the game is considered to be a collector’s item. Though that may only be Donald Trump that thinks this!
The overriding theme amongst all these business ventures is Donald Trump’s massive ego. Every one of these wacky ventures crashed and burned. Yet you are left with the impression that if he had just gone ahead and invested without using the Trump name on everything and describing stuff as the world’s greatest when it clearly sucked he could have had more success.
Then again the guy is hardly a failure at the end of the day. Even though his final days as President of the USA were ignominious, ultimately, he still backed himself using his own money for the number one job in the USA, and got it. Whatever you think of the man, you have to admire him for that.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed our little wander through the realm of Donald Trump. If you have, and you think you’ve got something to add, please leave a comment in the comments section below.