Friday, October 7, 2016

The myth and the reality of Donald Trump’s business empire

So many claims have been made about Donald Trump's business career during the presidential campaign — from Trump’s dramatic statements about his own success, to Marco Rubio’s fiery attacks during the Republican debate Thursday night. The questions remain: Is Trump really a titan of American business, a model of entrepreneurial success and self-invention? Or is he a reality TV star who has spent his career playing around with businesses built with inherited money, while ceaselessly courting celebrity along the way?

The truth appears to be somewhere in between. His business decisions over the years show that Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success.

Trump has dabbled in everything from real estate to steak, casinos and beauty queens, and he serves as an executive for more than 500 companies. Yet on top of his real business success, he has built an architecture of self-aggrandizement. “I play to people’s fantasies,” Trump wrote in his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.” “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

Given all the “truthful hyperbole” out there about Trump, it’s hard to know what to believe. Here are five of the most important things to know about Trump’s business career.

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