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What Fred Trump taught his son, Donald, about real estate



[The following is based on a true story]

[Flashback: Winter 1963. The Wilshire Apartments, Queens New York. The apartment building’s owner, Fred Trump, is meeting with his rental agent, Stanley Leibowitz. Accompanying them is Fred’s 17-year old son, Donald.]

FT: So how are we doing on rentals, Stan?

SL:  Pretty good, Mr. Trump. We’re up to 87 percent. We just had another application this morning.

FT: Oh, really? From who?

SL: A nice lady. A Miss Brown.

FT: Brown?

SL: Yes, sir. That’s her name.

FT: Is she a colored?

SL: Yes, she is, Mr. Trump. But very well-behaved. Good credit, pays her bills, has a good job as a secretary.

FT: Stan, I want you to take that application, put it in your desk drawer, and forget you ever saw it.

SL: You sure, Mr. Trump?

FT: Look, Stan, I can’t be having these coloreds in my buildings. You know what happens? Property values go down. Whites look elsewhere. Stan, I’m trying to get this Coney Island deal approved—23 stories, Trump Village—and if people hear that Trump properties are turning into slums, it’ll be a huuuge problem. So lose that application, Stan.

[Later, Fred is with Donald having lunch in a Queens deli.]

DT: Pops, what was up with that application—you know, the one you told Stan to lose?

FT: Listen up, son. If you’re gonna learn the ropes in this real estate business, you gotta know shit from shinola. It ain’t a racial thing, Donny, it’s just common sense.

DT: How’s that, pops?

FT: Look, when these blacks move into a neighborhood, things start to go downhill. Look at Harlem! Remember what I was telling you when we drove up to 125th Street that time?

DT: To look at that row of apartments?

FT: Yeah. You saw the filth, the garbage, the junkies, the whores, the pickaninnies running around like little animals. You want that in the Wilshire Apartments?

DT: No, pops.

FT: You want that in Trump Village?

DT: No, pops.

FT: Of course you don’t. You wouldn’t be my son if you did! So you gotta be tough, Donny. Can’t let ‘em in. Have to draw the line. Only thing is, you gotta be—how can I say it?—discrete. You don’t want one of these colored papers, like the Amsterdam News, saying you discriminate. Then some son-of-a-bitch Negro congressman like Adam Clayton Powell comes down on your ass and complains to the Justice Department that you’re a bigot.

DT: How do you avoid that, pops?

FT: I’ll tell ya, son. Listen up. You deny, deny, deny, you lie, lie, lie, and you insult your accusers. And if worse comes to worst, you sue. They got their lawyers; we got ours. It’s a pissing match, Donny, and we can piss longer and harder than the government can.

DT: Gee, dad, that’s smart.

FT: [smiles]

DT: I mean, really smart.

FT: Did you learn something today, son?

DT: I sure did, pops. I learned that the blacks are bad for business. I learned how to keep them out of our buildings.

FT: What else, son?

DT: [thinks] And I learned how to win.

FT: You sure did, son! And don’t you forget it!

[Fast forward to today. Donald Trump is in Trump Tower with his own sons, Eric and Donald, Jr.]

DT: And that was the first real estate lesson your Grandpa Fred ever taught me, boys. And I’m passing it along to you.

ET and DTJr., together: Gee, dad. Wish Grandpa hadn’t died so young. He sounds like he was a hella smart guy.

DT: [wistfully] He was, boys. He was. Taught me everything I know.

ft-dtFred and Donald, Trump Village

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