Donald Jr. & Ivanka Trump
Posted on July 01, 2007
For the children of Donald Trump, success has always seemed imminent. But when talking with them, one discovers that their success has little to do with silver spoons; it’s a result of drive and acumen. Both Ivanka and Donald Jr. graduated from Wharton College with degrees in Economics, and Finance and Marketing, respectively. Their contributions to the Trump Organization have caused it to swell not only outside of the continental United States, but overseas. Fresh from the season finale of The Apprentice, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. were kind enough to discuss their life in the public eye and their new development project in Baja: Trump Ocean Resort. trump-baja.com
You grew up with one of the most influential people in America…do you feel your childhood was normal?
Ivanka: I guess we didn’t know anything different. We’ve always lived in a little bit of a fishbowl. There have been pros and cons with that, but at the end of the day, I would never complain about the life I’ve been able to live so far. When there are people dying of starvation in Somalia it’s a little hard to complain about those things.
Don: Our parents brought us up so that we still had a very natural childhood. We learned how fortunate we were and how the other side lived. We didn’t grow up jaded, we were aware of how everything else worked.
What was Dad like as a dad?
Don: Probably a little unconventional. He wasn’t playing ball with us on a daily basis, that wasn’t his thing. But our parents made sure we were always productive, studying, becoming more cultured.
Donald, you’re a new dad, how do you feel about that? [Donald, Jr. and his wife, Vanessa, recently gave birth to a baby girl, Kai Madison.]
Don: I’m pretty excited. It’s a big change, and a lot of fun. Vanessa, my wife, is great with children.
Ivanka, I’ve read that you regret modeling. Why is that?
Ivanka: My only regret is that people still focus on it when I’m trying to do other things. But I learned a lot from it. You don’t get much more vicious than a bunch of 16-year-old girls. But real estate was always the end game for me.
Do you feel that you are a role model for young women?
Ivanka: If I am I’m happy. It bothers me when people say they hate bearing that title. I think it’s a great thing if you can be a positive role model for someone. It doesn’t require me to do anything besides work hard and do what I would be doing naturally.
How did you juggle being on the show and orchestrating real development deals?
Don: We’re developers first and foremost. The show was great for the brand but we really have a day job. For us, if we’re out filming, we’re neglecting some aspect of the real estate, and that’s a big no-no. So we sleep a little less and do it in our spare time. It’s an interesting experience but by no means our real focus.
Any comments on that season finale in Hollywood?
Ivanka: It was amazing. I looked at my father and Don as we were backstage and we just started laughing. I thought, everyone else is at home with their families eating Chinese food in front of the television, and we’re standing here ready to go live in front of millions of people. When we came out and saw all the fireworks, it was just surreal.
Don: I don’t ever want to be typecast as a reality TV show personality. But looking back on it in another 20 years, an experience like that is pretty cool. To be able to get up in front of millions of people and do what we did is a life experience that’s hard to turn down.
Did the contestants understand what was at stake?
Don: They figured it out pretty quickly. Watching the show, you think, ‘How hard can it be? They’re making such simple mistakes.’ But when you really see them working days on end without sleep — it really is surprisingly aggressive. Even the losers get something out of it because they understand what hard work is.
Some people criticized the tent aspect. Do you think it hurt the show?
Ivanka: I think this past season was the most critically acclaimed. Every review we read was very positive. Remember, at the end of that interview process people aren’t there just for television.
And now you’re each working on projects that take the Trump brand outside of the U.S.
Ivanka: It’s our first foray into Mexico. We’ve also got projects in Panama and Dubai. The Baja development is a quarter mile of oceanfront property in some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen. It will ultimately be a three-hotel condominium located only 30 minutes south of San Diego.
Don: It’s three buildings, each selling in its own phase. The first building was a record sellout for Mexico, almost $149 million in one day. For someone to buy property on the ocean in Southern California is different than what you can get right across the border. That extra 20 minutes is a huge price differential that allows people to have these kinds of homes. To have a very luxury condo experience in that proximity is a great buy for many Americans who have been priced out of U.S. properties. And it’ll also function as a hotel, so if you visit, you would never really notice that it wasn’t a hotel.
Will there be other locales in Mexico?
Don: I was there for three days last week looking at four different cities. We’re working very carefully with Mexican developers. We think there are going to be many opportunities there for us.
How many more international developments are you working on? Why go international?
Ivanka: There are so many areas of the world open to us. This is really one of our first international deals. When you’re talking about ten or twelve around the world, it’s really not that many locations. We’re being very disciplined to ensure value in us, and also the end buyer.
Don: We have the opportunity to form something new and enter these markets with modern technology. The best of best packaging. The only other brands in these areas are hotel brands, the Ritz Carlton and so on. Those guys are outdated. They’ve been there for 30 years when the market was different and required much less. We have the opportunity to develop an incredibly strong hotel brand.
Can you explain what’s going on in Dubai?
Ivanka: We’re building the flagship of the Palm Island. The whole island looks like a palm tree. It’ll be a 68-story tower designed by Atkins. One of the towers will be a hotel condo, the other will be a combo of residential and commercial space.
You’re young, you’re successful, you’ve got many years to go…what are some aspirations for the future?
Don: We’ve been afforded an incredible organization. Our father has really spent his life creating an incredible brand. We have the advantage to use that. It’s our goal to take that further. To take it outside the New York-centric model we’re known for and build internationally. There are now three children of his working in the company. In many respects we’re still a mom and pop family-type shop, despite the quantity of projects. It’s been left to us to expand the brand, to expand into a hotel company, into a resort developer. We have an amazing opportunity that we plan on being very successful with. Ryan Thomas
Ivanka Trump: Photo by Vincent Knakal Donald Trump Jr.: Photo courtesy of Jim Spellman/WireImage