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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Donald Trump, Mark Burnett, Simon Cowell
Aired May 21, 2005 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: I'm Carol Lin. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS in just a moment. But first, here's what's happening right now in the news.
Yet another photo of Saddam Hussein in prison. London's "Sun" tabloid shows the deposed dictator in a robe. In yesterday's "Sun," Saddam was shown only in his underwear. The Pentagon says it's aggressively investigating who took the pictures and how they were released to the tabloid.
A children's sleepover at a home in Cleveland has ended in tragedy. A fire ripped through the house in the middle of the night, killing seven of the children and two adults. Police say the children ranged in age from four to 17. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.
A single engine plane has crashed on the beach in New York's Coney Island. Police say all four people on board are dead. There are no reported injuries on the ground, even though the beach was crowded with people.
I'll be back with more headlines at the half hour. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the "Idol" judge America loves to hate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: I have a reputation in the music industry for having a big mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tough, blunt and often hilarious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COWELL: That was, honestly, excruciatingly awful. Really.
RANDY JACKSON, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: That's one of the things I love about him. What you see is exactly what you get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: He's the music mogul who's gone from the mail room must see TV. As "American Idol" heads to its season finale, a look at Simon Cowell, his hits, his misses, and what about that love/hate thing with fellow judge Paula Abdul.
Then, he's the mastermind behind "Survivor" whose real life adventures have the making of a prime time TV thriller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK BURNETT: I've been from commando to nanny in 24 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From the board room with The Donald, to the kitchen with Martha, reality TV hit maker Mark Brunett.
And later, he's the most recognizable name in New York real estate and reality TV. But there is much more to this brash businessman than marriages and money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a big disparity between my father as a public figure and as a father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The reality behind the tycoon and unlikely reality TV star, Donald Trump.
Now, from the pages of "People" magazine and the network for news, a look at the most fascinating people in the news.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.
He's been called rude, mean, nasty and arrogant, but Simon Cowell could care less. Every week, millions tune in to "American Idol" and many do it just to see what Simon's going to say next. Of course "Idol" has had its challenges this year, including allegations of a sexual relationship involving fellow judge Paula Abdul and a former contestant. But "American Idol" remains a phenomenon and Simon and his caustic wit are central to the show's success. But is it all on act? Could Simon really be that, well, rude? Here's Kyra Phillips.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): On "American Idol," he's Mr. Mean.
SIMON COWELL: You have about as much Latin flair as a polar bear. It was horrendous.
PHILLIPS: He's Judge Dread.
COWELL: I'm not saying that. I don't have to do it. No, no, let me finish. Can I finish? PHILLIPS: Combative, outspoken, sarcastic. Simon Cowell is the music mogul who's become a bigger star than the pop idols he's helped create.
CYNTHIA SANZ, SENIOR EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: There's a lot of booing of Simon from the audience and people take sport in sort of picking on him.
COWELL: That was very boring.
SANZ: And criticizing him and saying he's too mean. But when you ask people, they probably will agree with what he's saying.
COWELL: You're a little bit like three overweight Jessica Simpsons.
SANZ: "American Idol" wouldn't be "American Idol" without Simon Cowell. He really is the show.
COWELL: It was a complete and utter mess, in my opinion.
PHILLIPS: But Simon doesn't really mean to be rude, does he?
COWELL: I think most people I know have rude thoughts, they think mean things. I'm much more comfortable with somebody telling me to my face the way they feel about me and I'm much more comfortable doing the same thing in return.
TERI SEYMOUR, GIRLFRIEND: His personality away from the camera is exactly what you see on camera. He's honest. He can be nasty. You know, he'll say what he thinks constantly and sometimes you don't want to hear it.
RANDY JACKSON, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: Well, that's one of the things I love about him, what you see is exactly what you get.
PHILLIPS: As for stardom, Simon's longtime friends like Jackie St. Clair say it hasn't changed him a bit.
JACKIE ST. CLAIR, LONGTIME FRIEND: He was then and he is now the funniest person I've ever met. Just hilarious.
PETE WATERMAN, RECORD PRODUCER: You've got to look for the glint in Simon's eyes sometimes, all right, because he is lovely at being provocative sometimes. He does things to spark people.
PHILLIPS: Simon may be a joker but he's very serious when it comes to business.
SEYMOUR: He's a real businessman and he's constantly coming up with ideas and, you know, he's always thinking about the next thing. So definitely work is what drives him.
PHILLIPS: Work and money.
SEYMOUR: Definitely money. He always wants to make more and more and more money, yes.
ST. CLAIR: Simon has made no secret of the fact that he's just doing this to make as much money as possible. That's it. That's honest.
PHILLIPS: And those who know Simon say that's how he's been almost from the very beginning, ambitious, blunt, and opinionated.
COWELL: I would say America is almost becoming as good a judge as me.
PHILLIPS: Simon Cowell was born in Brighton, England, on October 7, 1959. But he was raised about 20 miles north of London, in Elstree, at his family's estate, Abbotts Medae (ph).
NICHOLAS COWELL, BROTHER: He was I suppose quite privileged to some extent but we grew up in a very instant family. My mother and father were both previously married before and they both had children from their previous marriages. So when Simon and I came along, I guess we were the two brats of the family.
PHILLIPS: Simon's father, Eric, was a successful real estate developer and he instilled in his sons a healthy respect for money and wealth.
COWELL: We came from, you know, quite a well-off family but we were always taught that we had to earn our own spending money. And we would take, you know, jobs and when school finished.
PHILLIPS: If Simon realized early on in life a love of making money, he also quickly learned that he wasn't much for school.
COWELL: You know, I was, you know, badly behaved, you know, rebellious, bored very quickly. I hated school. I thought it was a punishment. Very lippy. Always had an opinion.
PHILLIPS: Simon's big mouth was apparent early on. He seems always to have been a critic.
COWELL: Because I think I was three and my mom came down, she was going out one evening and she had this terrible outfit on, which was a fur coat with a fur hat, and I think she asked me if she looked pretty and I said, no, she looked like a poodle.
PHILLIPS: Simon wasn't only mouthy, he was mischievous.
COWELL: When I was about 12, we'd gone on to a bus, and as a joke, pointed these -- they were called pea guns and they were sort of plastic guns which shot dried peas. I mean they'd go about five feet, the peas, but they looked like guns and we pointed the gun at the driver and told him that we were hijacking the bus and he actually believed us. So he didn't stop for about 10 miles. And when we got to the other side, the police were waiting for us.
PHILLIPS: Simon quit school at the age of 16 and set out to find a career. After a series of false starts, including a short-lived stint at Elstree Movie Studios, he landed a job at EMI Records in the mail room. It was an entry level position that would change his life.
COWELL: I understood instinctively that this wasn't something where you were going to get handouts. This was a job where you could fail or succeed based on your own instincts, your tenacity. So I would just drive everybody crazy from the minute I was delivering mail because I would walk into everyone's offices and tell them they should give me a better job.
PHILLIPS: Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, a cocky, young producer gets a harsh dose of reality.
COWELL: I can remember being in the back of a taxi cab and I had the equivalent of about $5 in my back pocket.
PHILLIPS: And what's the deal with Simon and Paula?
COWELL: Don't talk about me. Talk to my face.
PAULA ABDUL, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: Simon, I don't have a problem saying anything in front of your face. Not one thing in front of your face.
COWELL: Well, then say it to my face.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
COWELL: What do you do, Christopher?
CHRISTOPHER: I work at the Venetian (ph) front desk.
COWELL: Well, I have some good news for you. You're going back to the hotel. That was a bore.
CHRISTOPHER: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: As a judge on "American Idol," Simon Cowell has been called rude, mean.
COWELL: That was like fingers going down a blackboard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, sorry.
PHILLIPS: And vain. But he's more than just a big mouth. He's a risk-taker who has been taking big gambles in business since his first job in the recording industry.
COWELL: Well, I did two years in EMI out of the mail room. And then a manager, he was a smart guy, he said to me, why don't we just start a record label together and why not? I was about 20, 21 with no money. We just took an office and started a record label. PHILLIPS: And with that, Simon Cowell was a record producer. A producer, that is, with no artists and a very low budget.
COWELL: I had about, in dollars, maybe $8,000 or $9,000 to find an artist, make a record, make a video, manufacturer it, promote it.
PHILLIPS: Despite the lack of funding, Simon did find an are artist. Her name was Sinitta and their first hit together, "So Macho," sold nearly a million copies.
The cocky record producer was on his way. At 29, Simon was a millionaire. But his new-found fortune was about to disappear. By 30, he was living back at his parents' home in Elstree. A buyout of his record company had gone sour, leaving him bankrupt.
COWELL: I can remember being in the back of a taxi and I had the equivalent of about $5 in my back pocket and that was the end of my money. And all I remember thinking is, is this going to cover the cab ride to my parents' house?
PHILLIPS: Simon turned to legendary British pop producer, Pete Waterman, to help rebuild his career.
COWELL: So it took me about two years to eventually persuade him to work for me. And within that two-year period, I followed him around like a dog because I knew that this guy could teach me more in a year or two than I could learn in 25 years within a major corporation.
PETE WATERMAN: You know, the one gracious thing about Simon, he's never claimed he didn't pinch (ph) all the ideas off me.
PHILLIPS: Simon eventually took a job with recording giant BMG and found early success producing albums inspired by TV shows, such as The "Teletubbies" and "The Power Rangers." But his biggest success came when he signed Westlife, an Irish boy band that went on to sell more than 45 million records.
By the time he'd reached his early 40s, Simon Cowell was a certified powerhouse in British pop music. But it would take the success of the UK reality series, "Popstars," to lead him to television. The TV talent show used judges to build new pop bands and the format gave Simon, and music manager Simon Fuller (ph), an idea with a twist.
SANZ: Simon was a successful record producer in Britain and he and Simon Fuller, who's also in the music industry over there, came up with the idea of doing sort of a televised talent show, like "Popstars" over there. But what made this one different is that the audience, the viewers, got to vote.
PHILLIPS: "Pop Idol" took Britain by storm and the judge with the aservic (ph) wit became a celebrity almost instantly.
COWELL: Honestly, it was terrible. PHILLIPS: It was more than even the brash Simon Cowell could have imagined. Despite "Idol's" phenomenal success in Britain, U.S. broadcasters were reluctant and Simon himself doubted the show would make it in America.
COWELL: I thought at the time, you know what, we'll be on air for three or four weeks, we'll be thrown off, we'll have a nice holiday and go back to England.
JACKSON: Not everything that works in England will work and translate in America. And whoa, to become the biggest show is just so crazy. I mean, none of us knew.
PHILLIPS: Four years later, "American Idol" has made Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest household names. Interest and speculation about their private lives and relationships lands them in the news and on magazines. Especially when it comes to Paula and Simon.
SANZ: Simon likes to joke around that Paula's really in love with him and that's why she gets so offended by what he says. But Simon does admit, too, that he just likes to push her buttons.
NIGEL LYTHGOE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "AMERICAN IDOL": Simon and Paula are like an old married couple. Each of them knows the weak spots. They do build it up. They do know they get publicity from kissing each other and everything else.
SEYMOUR: They have a love/hate relationship but he's always there for her and she knows that. But he drives her crazy. Like he drives me crazy!
PHILLIPS: Behind the scenes of "American Idol," Paula Abdul also has to deal with the guys club that developed among Simon, Randy and Ryan.
SANZ: The guys on the show really are friends. Simon and Randy and Ryan go out every week. They vacation together. They just have fun hanging out. Paula is sort of the odd woman out in that circle.
PHILLIPS: But Paula has found an unlikely ally in Simon's long time girlfriend, Teri Seymour, a bit of irony that he, of course, must address.
COWELL: They have become good friends, which is quite disturbing. I'll have to put a stop to that.
PHILLIPS: Simon certainly has his opinions of his fellow "Idol" judges and they, in turn, have theirs of him, especially when it comes to his sense of fashion or lack thereof.
JACKSON: Simon Cowell is definitely the no fashion guy. I don't think he believes in fashion. He only believes in a designer, Armani. Giorgio, man, look this guy loves you, man, but call and do -- hook him up, man. Say look, man, if you're going to wear my stuff, don't buy 20-pair of the same jean and 20 of the same t-shirt.
SEYMOUR: Simon's fashion sense has been the same since -- I can't remember. Since I've known him. He's never going to change. That's his style.
PHILLIPS: Simon Cowell's sense of fashion may be stuck in the past but he's always looking forward professionally. And he insists that he sees a day in the not-so-distant future when he's back working behind the scenes, instead of in front of the cameras. For the judge America loves to hate . . .
COWELL: Travis, I'm not being rude but that, I thought, was appalling.
ABDUL: Oh, come on!
PHILLIPS: It's all about the next big thing.
COWELL: I'm very, very, very competitive. And I'm only happy when I'm winning.
ZAHN: Simon will get his final shots in on Wednesday as voters choose the next "American Idol."
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, the adventure-seeking mogul who revolutionized the reality of prime time TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Everything is storytelling and character development. All I do is tell those stories without scripts and without act actors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A look at reality television guru Mark Burnett.
And later, he's rich, he's powerful, he's famous but what's up with that hair?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's almost afraid do it anything with it now because it's like Sampson. Who knows what happens if I cut it and everything changes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A look at the man behind the du, Donald Trump, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. ZAHN: "Survivor" and "The Apprentice" are two of the biggest reality shows on TV. And the man behind both of them is Executive Producer Mark Burnett. But you probably can't guess what he did before conquering reality TV.
ZAHN, (voice over): In a struggle as old as time, one man's desire to triumph on a quest, first as a warrior, and now, as a new kind of soldier in a battle for ratings. In the onslaught of reality shows, TV producer Mark Burnett has been a "Survivor" with a prime time lineup full of ratings grabbers. His latest offering, "The Contender," the search for the real life Rocky.
SYLVESTER STALLONE, HOST, "THE CONTENDER": See you on "The Contender."
ZAHN: But before boxing, there was "The Apprentice" and the weekly meeting with The Donald.
DONALD TRUMP, HOST, "THE APPRENTICE": You're fired.
ZAHN: And now the new hire, Martha Stewart.
MARK BURNETT: It's the same format where a bunch of people, 16 or 18, are vying to become Martha's apprentice. To learn from the master.
ZAHN: And the granddaddy of them all, "Survivor," now into its tenth season and filming the next, still some 20 million viewers strong.
TRUMP: And who will be "The Apprentice"?
BURNETT: They are unscripted dramas. Everything is storytelling and character development. All I do is tell those stories without scripts and without actors.
ZAHN: Real or not, the stories Burnett tells, adventure seekers marooned on a far-off island, entrepreneurs after the American dream, all have plots that parallel his own life story of risking everything.
BURNETT: "The Apprentice" is really my American dream show. I mean, I lived the American dream.
ZAHN: Burnett grew up in a working class neighborhood of inner city London.
BURNETT: My dad worked at Ford Motor Company. My mother worked next door in the battery factory making the car batteries. So very humble upbringing, lots of love and was never criticized or told I couldn't make it. ZAHN: His father says Mark never wanted to settle for a 9 to 5 job.
ARCHIE BURNETT, FATHER: No, no, he said, I've got something else in mind. So the next day he walks in and says, I've joined the paratroopers. I said, do what? He said, I've joined the paratroopers. And I said, well, you'll find something very hard now.
BURNETT: 127 men started on day one of training. Seventeen of us wore the red beret at the end. And I'm very proud. The parachute regiment helped make me who I am.
ZAHN: Steven Bouchard (ph), a lifelong friend, enlisted with Burnett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had this pact that we were going to go in the parachute regiment. Maybe because it was glamorous because it was the -- they were the tough guys. They were the -- it was the glitz. The only murphy type scenario. There was no wars, thank God, at the time.
ZAHN: But war did come. In 1982, Burnett was shipped to the South Atlantic and the Falklands War. It was a cold, miserable, hard- fought war. 250 British soldiers died retaking the wind-swept islands.
BURNETT: The Falklands War made me realize the glory of war isn't real. And one day seeing, one night, I think, 20 of my friends in body bags laying there and some of the toughest sergeants in the world, the parachute regiment men, looking me in the eye with tears and nothing to say.
ZAHN: Burnett and his comrades were welcomed home as heroes. But Burnett was ready for a new adventure.
Up next, Burnett crosses the pond to take another risk.
BURNETT: I had no money, no green card, no nothing.
LIN: Good afternoon. I'm Carol Lin.
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns in just a moment. But first, here's what's happening right now.
Investigators have wrapped up their crime scene investigation at the home where three people were beaten to death. Two youngsters from the home are still missing. Investigators say they do have dozens and dozens of leads but few clues and no suspects.
Authorities in Punta Gorda, Florida, have released video of a fight on a school bus. Take a look at that. Tuesday's incident resulted in a misdemeanor battery charge against the driver but felony charges against the teenagers. They're the ones whose faces are blurred, as is our policy here at CNN. The other youngsters were not involved in the fight.
A pilot and three passengers are dead in the crash of a small plane on the beach at New York's Coney Island. Witnesses say the plane was circling when its engine stalled. No one on the ground was hurt.
More headlines in a half hour. But right now, back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
ZAHN: In 1982, emboldened by his stint with the paratroopers, Mark Burnett sought more adventure. It was the time of the Iran Contra crisis. The British regiment needed military advisers in Central America. Burnett planned a trip there, with a brief stop in Los Angeles. But he didn't tell his mother, Jean, the whole truth about his next move.
BURNETT: My mother, as I was leaving, said, Mark, I have a bad feeling about this security job in America. She had no idea I was thinking Central America. And so I decided on the plane ride over, you know, I have put my parents through so much crap as an only child with the parachute regiment and all the stuff I did that no more guns.
ZAHN: His change of plans landed him in Beverly Hills. The former paratrooper took on an unlikely job.
BURNETT: I had no money, no green card, no nothing. The only job I could get was a live-in person doing something like a chauffeur or something. There were no chauffeur jobs. The only job available I got through a friend of mine was a nanny. So I went from commando to nanny in 24 hours. Unbelievable.
ZAHN: Later, the commando nanny would master his marketing skills by selling t-shirts on Venice Beach.
BURNETT: Americans give you a chance. If you have ideas, you think big and take risks, you can make it in America.
ZAHN: In Burnett's new book, "Jump In," he remembers how he went from t-shirt hawking to expedition racing. His inspiration, a French adventure competition called Raid Gauloises. In 1994, Burnett raced through the jungles of Borneo as part of a five-person team. A televised trek took its toll. The man who later would put people through grueling challenging threw in the towel after only five days.
BURNETT: Extremely disappointing to me. We came here after last year hoping to win and obviously it's not even close and I'm really questioning our sanity at this point of why on earth I'm doing this for the third year in a row and this is like insane.
ZAHN: But defeat didn't temper Burnett's gamble on adventure. By the mid 1990s, he combined his marketing savvy with his love of adventure and came up with his own TV series, "The Eco-Challenge Games." Teams from around the world competed for cash prizes in the televised event. Burnett later wagered his money on the American rights to a new type of television format, then dangle the island- based show in front of the networks. CBS took the bait.
LESLIE MOONVES, CHAIRMAN, CBS: Frankly, one of the reasons we bought the show is partially because of the idea but partially because of Mark -- a great deal because of Mark Burnett and our confidence in him.
ZAHN: Many reality TV shows have come and gone since the first "Survivor" contestants were left stranded before all of America. But few have won over America year after year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your favorite realty-based television program for this year is "Survivor: The Australian Outback."
JEFF PROBST, HOST, "SURVIVOR": He gets people to do things they really don't want to do. He gets guys to leave their families for longer than they probably should to go out in the middle of nowhere, to live in a tent with rats crawling all over them, scorpions crawling all over them. I'm not kidding. Drinking water that is barely healthy. Barely healthy.
ZAHN: With two Emmys and 22 nominations, Burnett's shows have proven they can outlast, outwit, and outplay them all. For 10 seasons running, "Survivor" has ranked in Nielsen's top 10 for prime time programs on the broadcast networks. And even though Burnett's other mega hit, "The Apprentice," has slipped some in the ratings, Burnett has another billionaire waiting in the wing, Martha Stewart.
BURNETT: My job is to choose iconic people and make great television about them. Martha was a billionaire. She did that from a catering business. It's a great story. And prior to her ever going to jail, prior to her conviction, I decided, along with Trump, that we would use her as the next adoration of our franchise.
ZAHN: But Burnett has his share of TV blunders, too. In his tell-all book, he writes about the show you won't be seeing any time soon, a scripted comedy called "Commando Nanny," inspired by his first job in America.
BURNETT: The lead actor broke his ankle. Gerald McCranye (ph), who played the dad, discovered lung cancer and had to go for surgery. It would -- thing after thing. Then we hired a new writer and it didn't quite work out with the new writer. It was a comedy of errors.
ZAHN: But Burnett is ready to jump in again. He's optioned the rights to a number of religious thrillers and adventure books and his ultimate plan is no secret.
BURNETT: I know that I'm destined to make a movie. This was in my blood. I love storytelling. I love visuals and I'm hoping that the next stage for me will be making a movie.
ZAHN: Whether it's TV or the big screen, this former paratrooper continues to make adventure his own reality.
ZAHN: Mark Burnett says his newest version of "The Apprentice" with Martha Stewart won't feature the domestic diva either baking or arranging flowers. He says Martha will be all business on the show.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, he's the blunt businessman with a catch phrase that made him a television star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: You're fired.
I realized right after I said it how beautiful those words are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From real estate to reality TV, Donald Trump, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
He's known as The Donald, Donald Trump. Never shy, always outspoken. He's the real estate mogul who's become a super celebrity thanks to "The Apprentice." The hit reality show wrapped up its third season this week, but Trump is more than just an ultra-wealthy television star, much more than just the catch phrase, "you're fired."
ZAHN, (voice over): In the world of business bigwigs, he is quite literally the gold standard.
MARK BURNETT, EXEC. PRODUCER, "THE APPRENTICE": Let's face it, Trump has been a cultural icon for 20 years.
ZAHN: He's 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.
ZAHN: He's 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.
ZAHN: His blunt style of business has earned him billions, whether you like him or not.
GEORGE ROSS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Is he fast? Is it brusque? Is he abrasive? Is he egotistical? Yes, all of those things. But that's what business is.
DONALD TRUMP, HOST, "THE APPRENTICE": You're fired.
ZAHN: And he's the proud owner of a popular catch phrase.
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 you say, you're fired, it's over.
ZAHN: The ratings have been slipping, "The Apprentice" remains one of the most watched reality TV programs in the country. Behind the show's success, the bigger than life personality of The Donald.
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.
ZAHN: The third of five children, young Donald had real estate in his blood.
DIANE BRADY, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "BUSINESS WEEK": 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.
ZAHN: The Trumps resided on Midland Parkway in the Queens, New York, neighborhood called Jamaica Estates.
TRUMP: I really grew up pretty normal. I mean, I lived in an upper middle-income area. And it was -- it was nice.
ZAHN: But Trump was an aggressive and rebellious child. He was almost expelled from Qforus (ph) school in the second grade for punching his music teacher. Trump had said, "I didn't think he knew anything about music."
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. They sent me up to New York Military Academy and it was really a great experience for me.
ZAHN: 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.
TRUMP: I led the parade down Fifth Avenue and literally past the site of so many of my buildings, including Trump Tower.
ZAHN: After graduating from military school, Trump had a decision, to go into the family business or chase his dreams in Hollywood.
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.
ZAHN: 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.
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.
ZAHN: On the road to Manhattan, Donald Trump met a stunning blonde Czechoslovakian named Ivana Zelnachec (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a model at the time. They were both driven, perfectionists. They were both highly ambitious people. They are 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.
ZAHN: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.
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.
ZAHN: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to build these iconic almost phallic buildings in Manhattan, you need to own air space.
ZAHN: Trump bought the rights to build over one of New York's most iconic buildings, Tiffany, at 57th and Fifth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.
ZAHN: 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.
ZAHN: Trump kept building. And on each facade, something that no one could miss, that name. It was everywhere.
DONALD TRUMP JR.: He would never endorse a product that he didn't believe in. Why did you put your name on that building? Because it's going to be the best.
ZAHN: The Trump empire kept expanding, adding an airline and Atlantic City casinos. But just months after the lavish opening of the Trump Taj Mahal, his kingdom nearly collapsed.
TRUMP: The real estate markets collapsed in the early '90s, late '80s, and people were just devastated. People -- good real estate developers went bankrupt and they were gone.
ZAHN: Trump's lenders wanted their nearly $3.5 billion back. His marriage was also starting to crumble.
When we come back, Trump fights for his financial life.
TRUMP: I owed billions and billions of dollars.
ZAHN: And a surprising look at the man behind the myth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a big disparity between my father as a public figure and as a father and a family man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this edition of "Breaking Big," a company with bullet-proof growth.
STEVE WARSHAW, PRESIDENT & CEO, M CUBED TECHNOLOGIES: M Cubed Technologies is an advanced, ceramics company that makes materials primarily that go into semiconductor equipment, as well as body armor. We found something very interesting that characteristics for the semiconductor equipment material were very similar to what's required for body armor. Three years ago, M Cubed was a struggling, small business because the semiconductor market was mired in a deep slump. The armor afforded us the opportunity to invest in future growth and the growth has been dramatic, 50 percent plus per year. Moving forward, we see various product extensions aligned to various ammunition threats. We see tremendous growth in vehicle armor, which I would characterize right now is an emerging market.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
ZAHN: If the 1980s were the greed is good era, then Donald Trump was the decade's poster boy. But by 1990, the real estate mogul nearly lost it all due to a collapsing real estate market. He was on the brink of bankruptcy.
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 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.
ZAHN: The $20 million divorce settlement hit The Donald where it hurt.
TRUMP: There's nothing great about divorce. Divorce is tough because it's personal.
ZAHN: With a failed marriage behind him, Trump know 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 comeback.
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.
ZAHN: By the mid '90s, 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 turnaround.
ZAHN: Trump rebounded personally as well. He married Marla Maples in 1993 and soon after she gave birth to Donald's fourth child. The couple would divorce only four years later. Despite a life lived out in the tabloids, Donald Trump has always worked hard and lived clean. He says he's never smoked a cigarette. Never even had a drink.
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.
ZAHN: Drinking has touched Trump's personal life as well.
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 wished the lawyers that went after the tobacco companies would go after the alcohol companies.
ZAHN: Trump's children, despite a privileged upbringing, stayed on the straight and narrow.
ERIC TRUMP, SON: We were always taught manners. We were never spoiled.
ZAHN: Bad behavior was simply not accepted.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER: Quite frankly, we would have been grounded. 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.
TRUMP: I'd always put them on allowance. I'd, you know, do as much as I could to try and make their life as normal as possible, but it's not a normal life.
ZAHN: Trump's brand of parenting may be the very thing that has made "The Apprentice" such a hit.
IVANKA 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.
TRUMP: Business in New York is a tough deal.
BURNETT: All the show has done is showed who he really is beyond the public persona.
TRUMP: You want to go home to be with your mother?
BURNETT: He really is a very smart, very decisive, very tough but warm and caring guy.
TRUMP: What does your mother say? Does she want you to here or be with her?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they want me to be here.
TRUMP: That's great.
ZAHN: And he's ready to laugh at himself.
TRUMP: They always say, Trump, does he wear a wig? I have my own hair. At least you'll see it now in the wind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's aware that it's sort of this baroque kind of construction. I mean, what is that hair? DONALD TRUMP, JR.: It's been that way since I was born. He's always had it -- he's always had it that way. It works for him. He's almost afraid to do anything with it now because it's like Sampson. Who knows what happens if I cut it and everything changes.
ZAHN: 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.
TRUMP: One of the things I love so much about "The Apprentice" it 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.
ZAHN: It's a good bet that the two will be linked forever, for better or for worse.
RUSSELL SIMMONS, FRIEND: Donald Trump is New York. You know he did the song "New York, New York" he played it in the background and that's his soundtrack.
ZAHN: Donald Trump is returning for a fourth season of "The Apprentice" and the show is already taking applications.
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. 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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