By Christopher A. Pape
There are few, if any, names that invoke the city of New York like the Trump name. Clearly, the Trump family are the masters of branding and whatever one’s feelings of them are - one must admit that their contribution is significant. While “The Donald” may still be in charge, his children – the ones with Ivana – are playing an ever increasing role.
The youngest of those three, Eric, is leading the charge with golf and hotel acquisitions. He recently sat down with us for a lengthy chat. We discussed what it means to be a Trump and a New Yorker, what he does exactly, his work with his charity - the Eric Trump Foundation which focuses its work on children, his appearances on Celebrity Apprentice and everything in between. As you would expect with a Trump, he was forthright and sincere and it was clear that he has a passion for his father, family and work.
It was a pleasure interviewing him – we even had our own photo shoot with the help of Getty Images – I hope you like the piece as much as I liked interviewing him.
Resident (R): Thank you for sitting down with us.
Eric Trump (ET): It’s my pleasure, you have a great magazine.
R: Obviously, you’re a Trump. What does it mean to be a member of that family?
ET: It means I have a lot of responsibility on so many different fronts. I was very fortunate to be born into a great family and I recognize that. My grandfather was a developer and was incredibly successful. My father has obviously done amazingly well and has clearly become the “King of New York.” But what we, as a family, have done with the Trump brand outside of the United States is nothing short of exceptional. This has created an incredibly strong foundation. We believe in family businesses. I always like to say that we’re the “biggest mom and pop” in the world. It’s very special to enjoy the company’s assets on the weekend with one another when your livelihood is spent turning them into something very special. To have eight eyes looking at each detail of every single property is a huge advantage and is what makes a family business all the more meaningful and effective.
So, what does it mean to be a Trump? Certainly, you carry that responsibility as the next generation. There is, of course, a philanthropic element, as well – “to whom much is given much is expected.” We all take that aspect very seriously and prioritize philanthropy in our lives.
R: Were you expected to be a part of the business?
ET: No. My father has always said that if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it. For a couple of reasons – life’s too short to be miserable each day and if you don’t love it, you’ll never be good at it. He’d always reinforce that point. Ultimately, his greatest wish has come true – having all of us actively working in the business alongside him. He loves to call me at 6am to talk about an asset or acquisition, while also being able to interact with his son. I value these calls, as well, because he is an amazing mentor. But if we weren’t good at what we do, or if we didn’t love it, I think he’d ask us to pursue other interests. At the end of the day, we’re a very big business; we have tens of thousands of employees and a lot rides on the decisions we make. Therefore, like any other employee, we will be held accountable – family only goes so far.
R: What exactly do you do for the company?
ET: I do a lot of the company’s acquisitions, particularly those that fall under the auspices of our golf company. We have expanded rapidly in the last five years – we went from four courses to 13. We now have courses both domestically and internationally. We’ve also grown the hotel business tremendously and I spend a lot of time working on our properties in Las Vegas, Chicago, Panama and Doral, among others. All of these assets are award winning and I’m proud of all of our accomplishments. I also run one of our newest acquisitions, Trump Winery, Charlottesville, VA. An incredibly stunning piece of land – over 900 acres - that produces award-winning wine.
R: I understand that you grew up in New York?
ET: I did. I attended The Hill School, a boarding school in Pottstown, PA, and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, but eventually made my way back to New York.
R: What does it mean to be a New Yorker?
ET: Today, there is no family that’s more synonymous with New York than the Trumps. My father lives and breathes the city. My grandfather did such amazing work in Brooklyn and Queens, building 27,000 middle income units – they were formidable and fantastic buildings. Eventually, my father moved the business into Manhattan and, as we all know, built some of the tallest and most luxurious skyscrapers anywhere in the world.
When people say Donald Trump’s name, the word “New York” never fails to follow closely behind. We are so engrained with the city – whether it be from Wollman Rink to Trump Soho – we love this city. It’s who we are. It’s where we call home. We cannot imagine being anywhere else in the world. Even the building we’re sitting in right now, Trump Tower, on 57th and 5th, is arguably on the most prestigious corner anywhere in the world and we wouldn’t want it any other way. New York is an incredible place with incredible people working for incredible businesses.
R: What do you do for fun in the city? How do you utilize the city?
ET: From the time I wake up – I run Central Park every morning - to the evenings spent dining in local restaurants - I use every facet of NYC. Moreover, as you can imagine, we also spend a tremendous amount of time in the greater NYC airports coming to/from our various projects. But, at the end of the day, it’s always great to be home.
R: Favorite restaurants?
ET: There is no shortage of great restaurants in NYC. But what I’ve noticed is that I tend to stick to five or six places that I really love. People get to know you; you feel comfortable there – you can walk in without a reservation. I love the steakhouse, Quality Meats on 58th & 6th. I’m friends with Todd English and he is doing a great job at the Plaza. Rue 57 is another favorite. We also love Trump Grill and eat there all the time. Fresco by Scotto is fantastic.
R: Rosanna was on our cover in February.
ET: Really? She’s a great person. My whole family loves her.
R: I’ve got to ask you about Celebrity Apprentice – how is it like?
ET: Out of all the Trumps, I am probably the one who shuns the spotlight the most. But even though that’s the case, The Celebrity Apprentice has been incredibly fun and you quickly recognize the power of television. Not only do I garner thousands of new Twitter followers every season which is great for our brand, the show has reignited and launched so many careers: Joan Rivers, Piers Morgan, Arsenio Hall, to name a few. Notwithstanding, we’ve all been fortunate to make a lot of great friends from the show and it’s been very good for business. Above all, the amount of money that the show has single-handedly raised for charity over the years is staggering – tens of millions of dollars. While the focus will always be on the madness generated by our celebrity cast, my father deserves a lot of recognition for the fact that it’s the most philanthropic show in the history of television and has made life changing contributions to countless charities.
R: Let’s turn our gaze in another direction – tell us about your charity.
ET: Six years ago, my friends and I got together and decided to do something for children. We focused on children battling life-threatening diseases. We spent a year traveling the country and visiting all of the major hospitals in an effort to identify one that could be our beneficiary. When we walked through the doors of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, the experience was like “night and day.” They are by far the best in the world at what they do. Our first year, we decided to host a golf outing and raised $275,000. Six years later, the same golf outing raises north of $2 million dollars annually. We’ve grown into the largest private golf outing in the country and have quickly become St. Jude’s single largest event and fundraiser. The greatest benefit of hosting the events ourselves is that we own the facilities and therefore, it’s free. All the money raised goes directly to the children. And for that I’m very proud. •
For more information on
Eric’s charity visit: