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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Cirque du Soleil, Donald Trump
Aired September 25, 2004 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, a behind the scenes glimpse into another world.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three, pull.
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ANNOUNCER: The fantastic world of Cirque du Soleil, meet the visionary who founded the billion-dollar empire.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew we had something special.
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ANNOUNCER: Venture beyond the big top to see how it all comes together: the creative challenges, the tryouts, the training, an intimate look behind the spectacle of Cirque du Soleil.
Then, the multi-billionaire who has found new fame as a TV star.
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DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": You're fired.
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ANNOUNCER: His name is synonymous with living large.
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GEORGE ROSS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Donald does not do anything small, or minor.
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ANNOUNCER: But there's more to the Donald than his lavish lifestyle.
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D. TRUMP: Well, I don't drink and I don't smoke and those are two of my better qualities.
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ANNOUNCER: What he considers his greatest achievement may surprise you.
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IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER: When we came home from school, he was our dad.
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ANNOUNCER: New reality behind the unlikely star of reality TV, Donald Trump. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Twenty years ago, it was a rag-tag group of street performers. Well, today it is a billion-dollar empire. Cirque du Soleil is a circus like no other. There are no lions, tigers nor elephants of any kind just a unique group of some of the most dynamic and talented people on the planet. As Cirque celebrates its 20th anniversary, Heidi Collins takes a revealing look behind the show of shows.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With every sunrise, the city of Montreal wakes up to the sights and sounds of street performers. Here, the circus of the 21st century raised its tent and sent the entertainment world on fire.
Welcome to the circus of the sun, Cirque du Soleil. For 20 years, Cirque has been chasing the sun, performing worldwide, 52 weeks a year. Its mega-budget fantasies come alive with music, theater, dance, and how did they do that acrobatics. The pioneer of so-called contemporary circus, Cirque du Soleil soars beyond the old-fashioned big-top.
For one than a century, the No. 1 circus, Barnum and Bailey, wasn't complete without tons of four-legged creatures. But the only beats in Cirque du Soleil are feather draped and wig enhanced. The large three-ring circus is shrunk to a more intimate one ring and the lord of this ring is Guy Laliberte.
(on camera): And this is you on the right?
GUY LALIBERTE, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL FOUNDER/CEO: Correct, with the accordion. And that's me spitting fire.
COLLINS: That's what?
LALIBERTE: Me spitting fire.
COLLINS (voice-over): Laliberte, the fire breather, was always a dreamer. After high school, he hitchhiked around Europe, spending time in Paris and London where he met jugglers and stilt walkers. LALIBERTE: The first time I was in London in 1978, I was, what, 18 or something like that. I arrived with my little accordion. The first place that I end up was Hyde Park in a corner and basically I stayed there and I slept on the bench for the first night of my life in London.
COLLINS: Back in Quebec in 1982, Laliberte and several friends put together a small street festival. After two years of performing, the so-called high-heels club gave birth to something brand new. Its name, Cirque du Soleil. It was a motley troupe of 73 musicians, clowns and acrobats. To make money, the Canadians pulled down their tent and followed the summer sun to a festival in Los Angeles. They had just enough money to get to L.A., but if the show flopped, it was literally the end of the road.
LALIBERTE: It was live or die in L.A. And we bet everything on one night, the opening night of the Los Angeles Festival. And by the end of the show, the standing ovation, you know, and the day after, the tickets were selling like crazy.
COLLINS: Laliberte, the great risk taker, was realizing his dream. Playing to audiences in California, Cirque netted $1.5 million in profits by the end of the year. By 1990, the signature blue and yellow tents began cropping up in Europe. Two years later, in Asia.
Laliberte's dreams now worth more than $1 billion are housed at Cirque du Soleil's international headquarters in Montreal. Most Cirque enterprises begin this way, with creative brainstorming. The average age of employees, a young 34. They're looking for the perfect union between business and art.
LUC PLAMONDON, VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCTS: We cannot just choose a material because it's beautiful. It has to fit with the body.
COLLINS: Luc Plamondon leads more than 300 full-time workers in Cirque's costume workshop. Every costume is custom-made. Tens of thousands of exotic outfits leave Montreal every year. All wigs and hats are created using plaster molds of the actual heads of cirque artists, many of whom hail from the farthest corners of the earth.
LYN HEWARD, PRESIDENT AND COO, CREATIVE CONTENT: It symbolizes, as we walk along here, the multicultural life that we have at Cirque du Soleil. These artists have come and gone from Cirque. Two floors down, in Studio E, new artists are hoping to take their place. Adam Menze (ph) is from Canada. And Lee Brerely (ph) from England. They were world class athletes but their careers were winding down. What can a high-flying trampolinist do next? Run away and join the circus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not just a circus. It's completely different.
COLLINS: For them, an opportunity of a lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get paid to do what we love. You almost jump out of bed in the morning because you are so excited about going to work. COLLINS: Cirque gets more than 100 audition tapes and resumes every week. But each year only 50 hopefuls get the call to come to Montreal and train.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, once more. Don't dwell too much on the relationships.
COLLINS: Lee and Adam are like most of Cirque's trainees, well- trained athletes with little or no artistic skill. Here they hone their talents and undergo extensive training in the art of theater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes you move in a way you've never known before. And also, the confidence you get to just go out on stage and just do something from people you've never even known before.
COLLINS: Lee and Adam have not been promised a job with Cirque. They and a dozens of others in this summer's tryout are promised nothing except the possible place on Cirque's list of approved artists. And if there are no jobs this time around, Lee and Adam both say they'll try again to make the leap into that very exclusive, very elite pool of Cirque du Soleil artists.
Coming up next...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're already about two hours behind schedule.
COLLINS: ...what it takes to keep Cirque du Soleil's traveling shows on the road to success.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, ladies and gentlemen, Alegria.
COLLINS: Alegria, one of Cirque du Soleil's five touring productions has been on the road for 10 years. For that entire time, no one in the audience has fully understood exactly what was being said. This Cirque performer is singing in Cirquish (ph), a gibberish language. Like the ever-present face mask, the non-sensical lyric allows a universal performance, one that cuts across culture and language. Bottom line, ticket sales can be as good in Tokyo as in Amsterdam, Madrid or here in Atlanta where Alegria's three-week run was a sell-out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We start out and this is just completely a barren parking lot.
COLLINS: Jeff Pluth (ph) is tour manager. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Cirque terms, it means I'm the mayor of this little village down here.
COLLINS (on camera): How many people and how long does it take to set this thing up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This takes nine days to set up, three days to take down. It takes a staff of about 140 people. There are over 10 structures on site.
COLLINS (voice-over): The mobile village is anchored by the grand chapetau (ph), the big-top. Valued at $1 million, it seats 2,500 people within its imposing domed design. Nearby are wardrobe, tour offices, laundry utilities, a school, everything needed on the road. Even a gourmet kitchen and dining area created by popping open four 48-foot trucks.
Gaston Elie has been traveling with Alegria for five years. He is one of the 550 artists performing world wide for Cirque du Soleil. A trapeze artist from Argentina, he has only known a circus life.
GASTON ELIE, TRAPEZE ARTIST: My father was a trapeze artist. My grandfather was a trapeze artist. So I think it be in the blood pretty much.
COLLINS (on camera): Tell me about the day that you auditioned or tried out for Cirque du Soleil. How does that work? How did it go?
ELIE: Well, it was back in '97. I was working in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Cirque was looking for four people. And I said to my family, I want to try.
COLLINS (voice-over): Cirque's casting department will search high and low for talent like Gaston's.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'll show you here the miracle chamber.
COLLINS: Carmen Rui (ph), a stilt dancer with the original high- heels club, helps direct Cirque's 36 talent scouts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're looking for people who have great presence, something to give.
COLLINS: They attend sporting events or festivals to discover new artists with flair.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this gentleman sent us a video in '99.
COLLINS: They once flew all the way to South America for a clown. After Gaston was chosen, the hard part was just beginning. The high-flying artist must practice for hours every day. He says he's never afraid, but the nerves are still there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every show, what's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for me is butterflies in my stomach, you know. Just the last two tricks are the hardest ones to do and so, we do a flip and we have to catch the trapeze. But it has to be very precise because otherwise the trapeze is going to go away and you're going to fall off.
COLLINS: Another star of Alegria, a young Mongolian contortionist named Acki (ph). At the age of 19, she is a veteran. Acki (ph) has been on the road with Alegria for 10 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 9 years old, I joined Cirque du Soleil. I was with my guardian, Mongolian guardian. I didn't have my parents. It was hard for my parents, you know, and -- but I really didn't want it to go, so I always, you know. And they just tell me like it's your choice, you know.
COLLINS: Acki (ph), flexible at birth, began training at 5 and was soon a professional with the Mongolian State Circus. A Cirque talent scout saw her and hired her on the spot. Growing up on the road, Acki (ph) learned three languages and found a home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like family, yes. It's really like family here.
COLLINS (on camera): What about boyfriends? Can you date? I mean what do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a boyfriend now. He's in the show, too. I never had, you know, boyfriend before because I was all the time traveling. But I'm really happy, you know, because I have somebody with me now, you know.
COLLINS (voice-over): And what makes her the happiest? Shocking the audience with her flexibility.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hear on the stage when I'm doing performing, you can hear actually somebody screaming there, you know, just screaming like, what? It must hurt, you know, like, ow, like that, you know.
COLLINS (on camera): Do you kind of giggle inside when you hear that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm used to it now.
COLLINS: When the lights come up, all the training and days on the road pay off for Acki (ph), Gaston and Alegria's 53 other artists in the accolades of their fans.
While the performers enjoy sunshine somewhere on break, the breakdown crew faces three days of long work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People think that show business is completely glamorous and it's rainy and wet.
COLLINS: Fifty-two big rigs stand by to haul everything to the next site. And so the village is on the move once more, crisscrossing the globe, a circus in search of the sun.
Coming up, Cirque exposed. A risque new twist and the next creative venture.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
COLLINS (voice-over): Las Vegas, in a town known for its extravagance, Cirque du Soleil's three multimillion-dollar productions, O, Mystere and Zumanity, indulge audiences with pure imagination and fantasy. The Las Vegas-based shows are some of the hottest selling tickets on the strip, playing to more than 9,000 people every night. By next year the three Vegas shows will account for almost 50 percent of Cirque's estimated revenues of more than $500 million.
Tapping into Las Vegas' burlesque groups, Cirque du Soleil reveals its naughty side in the troupe's latest show Zumanity. Titillating audiences with a mix of cabaret, striptease and erotica.
HEWARD: We need to reinvent our shows. We don't like to repeat ourselves. Our challenge is actually not to repeat ourselves, to create a new hybrid.
COLLINS: Cirque du Soleil continues to push its creative edge with four permanent shows, three based in Las Vegas, one in Orlando and another in production.
DANIELLE RODENKIRCHEN, ACROBAT: It's nice to have a place to come home to.
COLLINS: For the artists of Cirque du Soleil, joining a resident show in Las Vegas offers a circus life off the road.
(on camera): How does it feel to wake up in the same bed every morning?
RODENKIRCHEN: Oh, I love it. I love what I call the normal life, getting up inspect the morning, making breakfast, driving to work in a car that I own.
COLLINS: At just 17, gymnast Danielle Rodenkirchen joined Cirque du Soleil's traveling show, Alegria.
RODENKIRCHEN: I'm very close with my family and I still am, but I was ready to kind of venture out on my own and do my own thing and kind of figure out who I was. And my biggest dream was to go to the Olympics and when that didn't really come through; I didn't know what I was going to do.
COLLINS: An audition with Cirque du Soleil in Montreal would change that.
RODENKIRCHEN: When I got a letter in the mail saying they wanted me to join the cast of Alegria, it was no doubt in my mind. I didn't have to think about it. As soon as I opened it, I was like, oh my God, I'm joining Cirque. That's it.
COLLINS: Now 28 and an acrobat in the Las Vegas show Mystere, Danielle is considered a veteran performer. Cirque pays its performers a yearly salary ranging from $30,000 for an apprentice to more than $100,000 for an established artist. After 10 years, Danielle wonders what's next.
RODENKIRCHEN: When I'm on stage and I think about these moments about what will I do next, it's those -- like the finale of the show when you stand there and the people are clapping. You're like; I'm not ready to leave this yet.
COLLINS: For the artists of Cirque du Soleil, the mantra is you must evolve.
HEWARD: It's only after a few years where you realize that the locomotive is going in that direction and you've got to keep up with it. You've got to hop on to it. You've got to change. You've got to adapt.
COLLINS: Danielle has adapted to the prospect of life off-stage by taking a day job.
RODENKIRCHEN: I'm very lucky to do two jobs with Cirque du Soleil both as an acrobat, stage performer at night and during the day I do cultural affairs and work with artists in the community. And it's taught me that there are other things out there besides just entertainment and performing and acrobatics.
COLLINS: As Cirque du Soleil has matured as well, the brand has become part of our culture, even parody in an expedia.com commercial. Social satire and more, just this year, the first unauthorized biography based on Cirque du Soleil was published.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The circus has changed a lot.
COLLINS: Montreal journalist, Jean Beaunonee's (ph) book "Backstage at The Cirque du Soleil," explores the evolution of the Montreal circus. Throughout the book, there is much praise for Guy Laliberte, now the sole owner of the billion dollar circus. But Beaunonee (ph) claims his rise was challenged by corporate infighting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the very beginning, it was a family enterprise, but Guy Laliberte one day said to those people, it's not a family enterprise anymore. Now we are a business enterprise. And I think that there was a price to pay for that.
LALIBERTE: At the beginning, it was tough. There was a lot of inside battle, you know, because different people want to bring the company in different directions with different philosophy or spirit.
COLLINS: Twenty years later, there are still challenges. Cirque was accused of discrimination after firing an HIV positive gymnast. The company would later pay $600,000 to settle the case. In 2004, Cirque du Soleil continues to explore the idea of entertainment and merchandising, even expanding the brand into a future line of hotels. But Guy Laliberte is playing his biggest hand in Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil unveils his newest show at the MGM Grand next year. And with a mega budget of $150 million, it will be the largest entertainment venture the city has ever seen.
As Cirque du Soleil celebrates 20 years under the sun, the little troupe that could from Montreal has transformed into a global entertainment company. But the one-time street performer turned circus entrepreneur refuses to forget where he came from.
LALIBERTE: I want to keep the notion of it's a serious business, but I think it's important to keep that notion of where we come from.
COLLINS: But more than anything, Laliberte is committed to passing on a legacy of passion and creativity.
LALIBERTE: I believe it's a beautiful jewel that is here in Montreal and Quebec. It's not about money. It's about, you know, making sure the passion would still be there tomorrow.
ZAHN: Lee and Adam, the two aspiring Cirque performers have met with mixed success. Lee signed a contract for a new touring production that begins next April. Adam, however, was not offered a contract and has returned home.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, he's a blunt businessman with a new catch phrase.
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D. TRUMP: You're fired. You're fired. I realized right after I said it how beautiful those words are.
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ANNOUNCER: From real estate to reality TV, Donald Trump when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. He is known as the Donald, Donald trump, never shy, always outspoken. He is the real estate mogul who has become a super celebrity and he's back with the all new season of the hit reality show "The Apprentice." But what's the real story behind Trump? For that, here's Bill Hemmer.
BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the world of business big wigs, he is quite literally the gold standard. MARK BURNETT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE APPRENTICE": Let's face it; Trump has been a cultural icon for 20 years.
HEMMER: He is one of the most prolific real estate developers in American history.
DONALD J. TRUMP Jr., THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think he wanted to change the skyline of New York and I think he certainly has.
HEMMER: He is the epitome of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
RUSSELL SIMMONS, FRIEND: There's a lifestyle associated with Donald Trump that people in America, from the trailer parks to the projects, to Middle America, they all see that as what they work for or dream about.
HEMMER: His blunt style of business has earned him billions, whether you like it or not.
ROSS: Is he fast? Is it brusque? Is he abrasive? IS he egotistical? Yes, all of those things but that's what business is.
D. TRUMP: You're fired. You're fired.
HEMMER: And he's a proud new owner of a popular catch phrase.
D. TRUMP: I realized right after I said it how beautiful those words are. They're horrendous and mean and vicious. But they are beautiful in a sense because it's very defining. When we say you're fired, it's over.
HEMMER: The first seasons of "The Apprentice" made an unlikely television star out of the real estate mogul. The hit show averaged more than 20 million viewers and got an Emmy nomination.
The Donald search starts again with season two of "The Apprentice" underway.
D. TRUMP: This is the chance for them to work for me and a huge salary and maybe learn something, so they too can become a billionaire one day.
HEMMER: There are new contestants, new rules, and new challenges.
D. TRUMP: Each team will develop a brand new toy for Mattel.
HEMMER: While ratings are sagging a bit for this season of "The Apprentice," it's still in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings. And Donald Trump would not have it any other way.
D. TRUMP: Someone will be fired.
HEMMER: Donald John Trump was born in the shadows of Manhattan on June 14, 1946 to Fred and Mary Trump. J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Fred Trump was an incredibly strict, German father. His mother is a Scottish woman. They had a very strong, tight knit family.
HEMMER: The third of five children, young Donald had real estate in his blood.
DIANA BRADY, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "BUSINESSWEEK": Fred Trump made his millions building government subsidized housing in Queens and Brooklyn. There were a lot of immigrants in New York City. They needed housing and the best place to house them was in the outer boroughs.
HEMMER: The Trumps resided on Midland Parkway, in the Queens, New York neighborhood called Jamaica Estates.
D. TRUMP: I really grew up pretty normal. I mean I lived in an upper middle-income area and it was nice. I mean it was just good.
HEMMER: But Trump was an aggressive and rebellious child. He was almost expelled from Q. Forest School in the second grade for punching his music teacher. Trump has said -- quote -- "I didn't think he knew anything about music."
D. TRUMP: I wasn't the most well behaved person in the world and my parents had no idea what to do with me, and they heard about this school that was a tough place and they sent me up to New York Military Academy and it was really a great experience for me.
HEMMER: The move paid off. Trump got his act together. He excelled at sports and academics. And his newfound discipline made him one of the highest-ranking cadets at the academy.
D. TRUMP: I lead the parade down Fifth Avenue and literally, pass the site of so many of my buildings, including Trump Tower.
HEMMER: After graduating from military school, Trump had a decision, to go into the family business or chase his dreams in Hollywood.
D. TRUMP: I was going to be a movie producer. In fact, I applied, at one point, I remember, to the USC School of Cinema, but then I decided that the movie business wasn't as good as the real estate business.
HEMMER: So Trump enrolled in the prestigious Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1968 and joined his father working on developments in Brooklyn and in Queens. But Donald was daydreaming of a future on the other side of the East River.
D. TRUMP: When I worked in Brooklyn and Queens and I'd look over and I'd see these great skyscrapers, these magnificent buildings. I said that's where I want to be.
HEMMER: On the road to Manhattan, Donald Trump met a stunning blond Czechoslovakian named Ivana Zelnicek. HEYMAN: She's a model at the time. They were both driven, perfectionists. They were both highly ambitious people. They're both gaudy people. There's a what you see is what you get quality to both of them and in a lot of ways, they were a match made in heaven.
HEMMER: The two were married in 1977 and went on to have three children. It was around the same time that Trump laid the first brick in the foundation of his empire. Trump bought the bankrupt Commodore Hotel near Grand Central Station. And though he was still new to the Manhattan real estate scene, Trump was able to negotiate tax breaks to begin a major renovation project.
BRADY: He also had his father's contacts. He had his father's money. So in many ways he owes a lot of his success, the base of it at least, to his father, Fred Trump.
D. TRUMP: He was afraid of Manhattan. It wasn't his thing. It wasn't what he was comfortable with. So he didn't totally encourage me to go. He thought it might be biting off too much.
HEMMER: Trump transformed the broken down Commodore into the glitzy Grand Hyatt and 42nd Street began to come to life. For his next move, Trump set his sights sky high.
BRADY: If you want to build these iconic, almost phallic buildings, in Manhattan, you need to own air space.
HEMMER: Trump bought the rights to build over one of New York's most iconic buildings, Tiffany at 57th and 5th.
BRADY: When he got that lease, he wanted to build not only an ode to Donald; he wanted to build a magnificent luxury structure, which he did with Trump Tower.
HEMMER: Trump Tower, with its brass fixtures, marble floors, high-end stores and six-story running waterfall quickly became a tourist attraction and it started a renaissance on Fifth Avenue.
REGIS PHILBIN, FRIEND: That Trump Tower saved Fifth Avenue because the signs were going up. Liquidation sale, if you remember, 20 years ago what it was like, it was in jeopardy.
HEMMER: Atheistically minded New Yorkers may not have taken to their style, but Trump's buildings got a lot of attention.
HEYMAN: Donald Trump is tacky. He is not old money in that classic upper crusty sense. He has a very Democratic, in fact, very American idea of success and that's gold-plated toilet seats and fixtures.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Real glitzy, a lot of gold. But don't ask me what I think about tourists when they come to New York and they just stare up at the sky.
HEMMER: Trump kept building. And on each facade, something that no one could miss, that name. It was everywhere. DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: He would never endorse a product that he didn't believe in. What'd you put your name on that building, because it's going to be the best.
HEMMER: When our story continues, Donald and Ivana become media darlings for better and for worse. And while trying to survive at the top, the bottom almost falls out of his empire.
D. TRUMP: I have billions and billions of dollars.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
HEMMER (voice-over): If the 1980's were the greed is good era then Donald Trump was the decade's poster boy.
HEYMAN: I mean really Donald Trump is synonymous with the 1980s. He is an artifact of the 1980s and he is beloved because he hasn't changed at all since the 1980s.
HEMMER: By 1987, Trump was a national phenomenon. He had written "The Art of The Deal," a "New York Times" bestseller. He was lampooned in a cartoon strip, "Doonesbury." And the Trump name had become so well known that he even had his own board game. The fame went well beyond business. Donald and Ivana become one of the most recognizable couples in the world.
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: You open the front door in the morning and "The New York Post" is there and your parents are on the cover. And it's certainly something you're aware of.
HEYMAN: You know, Ivana Trump had a very, you know, Zsa Zsa Gabor classic Eastern-European way of talking and she, too, was larger than life. They were like cartoon characters. She called him The Donald. "Spy" magazine called him the Short-Fingered Bulgarian.
BRADY: One of the beauties of Donald Trump is he is kind of the epitome of how billionaires are supposed to live. He is ostentation personified.
HEMMER: Trump led the good life and had all the toys that went along with it. He had the yacht, the 280-foot Trump Princess, once owned by the Sultan of Brunei. He had the beach house, the sprawling Maralogo (ph) estate in Palm Beach, Florida. It certainly did not hurt his image to have the biggest and best of everything.
SIMMONS: People who are really, really rich sometime they think it's OK to get a G-4, or a G-5. And it's a fantastic plane and you know, it's a luxury way to travel and all, but Donald flies on a 727.
HEMMER: For Trump, the glitzy world of gambling at casinos was the next logical step in expanding his empire. BRADY: I think he recognized casinos were lucrative and casinos are cash cows. And if you're a developer, one thing you want is a lot of cash flowing in.
HEMMER: The Trump Plaza and Trump Castle revitalized the rundown Atlantic City boardwalk. It seemed Donald Trump could do no wrong.
In 1986, he brought his vision to his own backyard. Central Park's woven ice-skating rink, visible from Trump's Trump Tower apartment was in severe disrepair. New York City has spent six years and millions of dollars struggling to rebuild the rink until Trump decided to step in.
ROSS: He brought it in under budget on time.
HEMMER: Trump's success was an embarrassment to city bureaucrats.
ROSS: Well, if the private enterprise can do it like Donald Trump, how come all of the experts we had spending all of the money that the city puts together can't do something like this?
HEMMER: A battle of words erupted with New York City's mayor Ed Koch. Trump demanded city tax abatements on real estate projects prompting Koch to call him "Piggy, Piggy, Piggy." Trump responded by labeling the mayor a moron.
D. TRUMP: I think my truthfulness sometimes gets a little bit blunt and that does put people off.
BRADY: There are a lot of people who don't share his style, his aspirations or his humorous, frankly.
HEMMER: Trump added even more acquisitions through the late '80s. He started the Trump Shuttle after buying the troubled Eastern Airlines. And he bought Merv Griffin's Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City while it was still under construction.
BRADY: He got too giddy and probably too greedy. At one point, he was issuing, I think, $675 million in bonds himself to finance the property and that was what put him on the press that was basically where everything could have imploded.
HEMMER: In Trump style, the grand opening of the Taj Mahal was nothing short of a spectacle but just a few months later, his empire nearly crumbled.
D. TRUMP: When the real estate markets collapsed in the early 90's, late 80's, and people were just devastated. People, good real estate developers, went bankrupt and they were gone.
HEMMER: The nervous lenders who had bankrolled Trump wanted their nearly $3.5 billion backed. To make matters worse, Trump was going through a personal crisis. His marriage was falling apart and Donald was spending a lot of time with former beauty queen, Marla Maples. Their affair erupted into a full-fledged scandal. The New York tabloids were merciless. DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It was fairly rough because you have a lot of people that don't really know both sides of any given story and they're writing about it.
HEMMER: The $20 million divorce settlement hit The Donald where it hurt.
D. TRUMP: There's nothing great about divorce. Divorce is tough because it's personal.
HEMMER: With a failed marriage behind him, Trump focused on trying to rebuild his business. He was able to avoid bankruptcy by selling off some of his cherished possessions.
BRADY: He had to give up a lot of the iconic properties. He had to sell back the Plaza Hotel. He got out of the Grand Hyatt. He had to get rid of the Trump Shuttle. So a lot of the things he dreamed about, he ended up having to sell in order to stage a come back.
D. TRUMP: I decided to really fight and really fight hard. And I made deals with banks. I think the fact that my name was so good and my name was so well branded and so well indoctrinated in the minds of wealthy people, in particular, helped me. I had an advantage over other people.
HEMMER: By the mid 90's, it was clear that Trump and his name had survived.
HEYMAN: He had gone from being a billionaire to truly broke and saved himself. Whatever you think of Donald Trump, it is a remarkable turn around.
HEMMER: Trump rebounded personally, as well. He married Marla Maples in 1993 and soon after, she gave birth to Donald's fourth child, a daughter named Tiffany. The couple would divorce only four years later.
When our story continues...
D. TRUMP: Who will be "The Apprentice"?
HEMMER: ... Mr. Trump goes to Hollywood...
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It would be great if he just went off to be a movie star and allowed me to do all the real estate stuff.
HEMMER: ...and a surprising look at the man behind the myth.
I. TRUMP: There's a big disparity between my father as a public figure and as a father and a family man.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HEMMER (voice-over): After near financial ruin and personal trials in the early '90s, Donald Trump kept building. But he retreated as much as Donald Trump could from the spotlight. But Trump has always known the value of his name.
RANGEL: When you're bigger than life and everyone believes you know everything, it really doesn't make any difference what you know when you have that reputation.
D. TRUMP: I don't want to sound braggadocios but I do have the best buildings and I'm the biggest developer in the city by far. It's not even close.
HEMMER: Several experts dispute this claim but it's very hard to figure out numbers when it comes to Donald Trump.
BRADY: Because so much of his company is private, it's very hard to deduce exactly how much of these properties he necessarily owns. The public part is a very small slice of the pie, which is the casinos.
HEMMER: The struggling Trump hotels and casino resorts recently announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But Trump claims his casino interests account for less than two percent of his holdings.
According to "Forbes" magazine, the net worth of the world's most popular businessman is estimated at $2.5 billion.
BRADY: Especially the time where people are feeling kind of miserable about business and corporate America, he probably makes them feel pretty good. Here is a guy who allegedly is not ripping anybody off and yet, he can have it. Maybe I can have it, too.
HEMMER: Donald Trump has always worked hard and lived clean though despite the images his lifestyle may conjure up. He says he never smoked a cigarette, never had a drink.
D. TRUMP: I've seen people that I have great respect for and then they end up drunk one night. I could know them for five years. They end up drunk and you lose all of your respect for them.
HEMMER: Drinking has touched Trump's personal life as well.
D. TRUMP: Well, alcohol has touched my family. My brother, Fred, who was a terrific guy in every way, passed away, and alcohol killed him. It was pure and simple. He died because of alcohol. And I wish the lawyers that went after the tobacco companies would go after the alcohol companies.
HEMMER: Trump's children, despite a privileged upbringing, have stayed on the straight and narrow.
ERIC TRUMP, SON: We were always taught manners. We were never spoiled.
HEMMER: Bad behavior was simply not accepted.
I. TRUMP: Quite frankly, we would have been grounded, you know. And I think there's a lot of he got -- he inherited a lot of that sort of rule with an iron fist mentality from his father. Don't spoil your kids. Make them work for what they get.
D. TRUMP: I'd always put them on allowance. I'd, you know, do as much as I could to try to make their life as normal as possible. But it's not a normal life.
HEMMER: Trump's brand of parenting may be the very thing that has made "The Apprentice" such a hit.
I. TRUMP: I think what you can see from "The Apprentice" is our father definitely believes in tough love. He's tough, but as seen through these characters, he's interested in them and in the long run, and in teaching them a lesson.
D. TRUMP: Business in New York is a tough deal.
BURNETT: All the show has done is show who he really is beyond a public persona.
TRUMP: Do you want to go home to be with your family?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no.
BURNETT: He really is a very smart, very decisive, very tough, but a warm and caring guy.
D. TRUMP: What does your mother say? Does she want you to be here or be with them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they want me to be here.
TRUMP: That's great.
CAROLYN KEPCHER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think most people are seeing a different Donald Trump in the show. I hate to say it. He's a -- it's a more humanistic side, I suppose.
HEMMER: And he's ready to laugh at himself.
D. TRUMP: They always say, "Trump, does he wear a wig?" I said, "I have my own hair." At least they'll see it now in the wind.
HEYMAN: I think he's aware that it's sort of this baroque kind of construction. I mean what is that hair?
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It's been that way since I was born. Hey, he's always had -- he's always combed his hair that way. It works for him. He's almost afraid to do anything with it now because it like stands for him. He goes, "What happens if I cut it and everything changes?"
HEMMER: But never mind the hair. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, the real star of the show is the city he's always loved.
D. TRUMP: One of the things I love so much about "The Apprentice" is that it's a beautiful postcard to New York. It shows the city as it is, as a beautiful, tough, daring and everything else, but a really beautiful place. To me, the most beautiful place there is anywhere in the world.
BRADY: New York has been kind to Donald Trump. The renaissance of this city has also been the renaissance of his business.
HEMMER: And it's a good bet the two will be linked forever, for better or for worse.
SIMMONS: Donald Trump is New York. The song, "New York, New York," he plays in the background, that's his soundtrack.
ZAHN: Donald Trump isn't the only billionaire battling it out on TV this season. Dot.comer Marc Cuban and Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson are also trying their hands at reality TV.
That's it for this addition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week on the eve of the vice presidential debate, a look at the contenders, Dick Cheney and John Edwards. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks for joining us. I hope you'll be back with us next week.
ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.
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