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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview With Donald Trump

Aired October 30, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, it doesn't get anymore 1 percent than this. The most famous billionaire in America. Donald Trump at full throttle.

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: Now it's gotten so bad I'm not only talking about deficits. I'm saying, we're just not respected anymore. We're -- we're at a level that we probably have never been at.

MORGAN: Tonight, what he really thinks about "Occupy Wall Street."

TRUMP: I think some are very serious people. I think some are down there for dating purposes.

MORGAN: The president's birth certificate.

What does your gut tell you? Because you are a smart guy.

TRUMP: My gut tells me a couple of things. Number one, you know, it took a long time to produce the certificate and when it came out, as you know, you check out the Internet many people say it is not real. OK? That it's a forgery.

MORGAN: And the Republican candidates.

Donald Trump for the hour. This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Donald, thank you for inviting me into your -- well, this is almost the kind of lair of the 1 percent.

TRUMP: Well --

MORGAN: Or even the 1 percent of the 1 percent.

TRUMP: Thank you for being here. It's my honor.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: What do you think about this whole "Occupy Wall Street" thing? You, I guess, are in their target range. You're the prime example of capitalist success in America.

What do you make of them? Do you think that they have justification for their anger?

TRUMP: Well, I think some are very serious people. I think some are down there for dating purposes, and I have said, you know, they're down looking for girls, looking for women, looking for men. They're looking for anything.

Some are very serious people and they should be serious because the economy is terrible. I personally think Wall Street isn't their target. I think their target is the White House and certainly Washington. But they are some very serious people and it was interesting.

Somebody called me before from CNN, actually, and they want me to do -- I have a big building right there, 40 Wall Street. It's actually the tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and unfortunately because it used to be the World Trade Center, but it's now the tallest building in downtown, and it was very interesting because they want me to do an interview with representatives from the group "Occupy Wall Street."

MORGAN: And how do you feel about that?

TRUMP: I sort of think it's cool. I mean there's something I like about it. Like I said, might do it.

MORGAN: I had Michael -- I had Michael Moore on my show on Tuesday night in a live kind of town hall thing with an audience.

TRUMP: Right. I saw that show.

MORGAN: Right. And he -- you know, he has a view, and when I asked him to come up with a pie chart of who's to blame for the financial crisis, I said, come on, the public, Wall Street, collectively, all financial institutions, the government. The White House. And he said, it's 100 percent Wall Street.

TRUMP: Well, I disagree with that. You know I sat next to Michael years ago. And I really like him. I was with him, he's like a whole different guy. But then I watched him in the show, I said, whoa-whoa, is that the same guy?

So we all do our thing in life. Right? But I disagree with that.

Look, a lot has to do with politics, a lot has to do with the president, a lot has to do with bad decisions that have been made. And we'll see what happens but it's a mess. And I'm not sure that -- you know, they've been there a long time and perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to stay that long. A lot of decisions have to be made because it's getting bigger and bigger, and businesses are very much being affected in downtown Manhattan around the Wall Street area.

I mean they're really being affected.

MORGAN: And in other cities now. I mean in Oakland there's been a lot of unrest in the last couple of days.

How much do you blame the ordinary man and woman on an average American street? In other words, how much is personal responsibility got to come in to play when it comes to finances?

TRUMP: Well, you always say that but they were duped into doing mortgages. I used to give speeches of success. They'd ask me about success and they pay me a lot of money. I give a lot of money to charity and I feel guilty when I don't take it. And I'd say -- four or five years ago I'd say don't go for these -- I used to call them exploding mortgages. Because that's what they were. They were exploding mortgages.

And I was right. I have so many letters of people thanking me because they didn't do it. They didn't do the exploding mortgage where they're going to give you 150 percent of what you're asking for. You're going to move in to the most beautiful house -- like a house you can't afford but like you've never seen before.

And you don't have to pay interest the first year, don't worry about it. So you have to blame everybody but you have to blame government. You have to blame Wall Street. You have to blame the bankers in particular and I think today the bankers are a big problem because they're not loaning money. You know, they did get bailed out.

MORGAN: Well, they are not -- not only they're not loaning money but my anger to the bankers is that they seemed to have learned nothing about how to behave in this crisis. In the sense that having been responsible, certainly partly responsible, for bringing the country to its financial knees, will they get bailed out by the taxpayer.

The first thing many of them have done is stick the noses straight back in the bonus trough and give themselves millions of dollars again. They don't seem to get it.

You work with these guys day in, day out. What do you think of that, in particular?

TRUMP: Well, some of the banks are asking for fees just to keep your money. I mean all of a sudden, you know, we're getting fees for keeping money so I don't like that. I don't like a lot of things that the bankers have done. I mean you know when you talk about the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, I mean, they do have some points. And I'm --

MORGAN: Which are the points that you --

TRUMP: I'm a very conservative guy, and I'm a Republican guy.

MORGAN: What do you agree with?

TRUMP: Well, the biggest problem I have with what's happening with the system is the banks, unless you're like somebody like me -- if I want to borrow money, I can borrow all the money I want at the very -- at the rates that are the lowest rates I have ever seen. That's because I don't need it.

But if you need money or if you want to buy a house in Phoenix, Arizona, you can't get it. You can't get any money. They'll give you a 25 percent loan. They'll give you a 30-percent loan, and they'll have you tied up like a sardine.

MORGAN: But they have the money, right? TRUMP: They have the money. They have cash and they're not using it.

MORGAN: What is the way to unlock this? I mean you're one of the smartest business people I know. How do you get through this apparently immovable wall now where the banks have the money but don't want to lend it and the economy is just trapped in hell?

TRUMP: Part of the problem that the banks have, in all fairness, Piers -- now I'm not a huge fan of the banks because I see what's happening. I'll sell apartments to people and then they tell me I can't get financing, Mr. Trump. I said, well, you've got to get your financing in, you know, it's like one of those things, well, pay me cash. But people can't pay cash, most people.

I think there are a lot of different problems with the banks but one of the things is regulations. The regulators are making it so tough on banks. I called a couple of banks for friends of mine that were trying to buy something.

And they said Donald, the problem we have is the regulators are literally watching every line of every statement and if we loan this guy money to build a building or if we loan this one, you know, unless he putts up like 60 or 70 percent equity, which is ridiculous, that's not even a loan, he said we can't give him the money.

And they tell me the regulators are literally running the banks. The banks are afraid and really not even afraid. In some cases they can't make the deal. So I don't know what the reason is. I think that's a big part of the reason but I can tell you this. The banks have money. They're not loaning it and especially to people that want to buy houses.

MORGAN: Is there more that Barack Obama can do as president to unlock this, to move the paralysis?

TRUMP: You have to let the banks do their thing. You have to tell the regulators, look, some of the deals will be bad but they have to do their thing. You know not everything is going to be a AAA person with a perfect rating and much more money.

You know, if you have a lot of money, they'll give you all the money you want. If you don't have that much money, they're not loaning, so I think if I were President Obama, I'd say, fellows, you've got to ease up a little bit because they're not loaning the money to people to buy houses.

Now, I tell this to people, friends of mine and other people and young people, and this is a great time to buy a house but not from you or from me. This is a great time to buy a house from a bank and you can get the money because they already own the house. They have no choice. They have to get rid of it because these houses are being vandalized. People don't even realize.

First of all, the group leaves and they hate the bank because they were forced out. So they vandalize the house. Then everybody else gets in to the picture. The banks desperate to sell houses. They're not desperate to loan money. But when they already have the house they'll give you a purchase money mortgage. They'll take back financing.

This is a great time to buy houses but only from banks.

MORGAN: Did you agree with the bailing out of the banks after Lehman Brothers collapsed?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you this. Look. I'm a very conservative person and I'm a Republican but I watched banks that were the strongest banks in the nation, and I'm friendly with many of the heads of those banks. And those people were scared. They thought it was over.

And I'm talking about Goldman Sachs, I'm talking about the biggest banks. These people thought it was over. There was going to be a run on every institution. And you can have the strongest bank in the world but if there's a run on that bank it's not strong because the numbers, you know, it's just so very simple leverage.

MORGAN: And what would have happened? If Armageddon happened --

TRUMP: Well, you don't know.

MORGAN: -- and you had a domino effect, how bad would it have been? Because the counter argument is, well, they deserve to have a run on them.

TRUMP: Yes, you're right. You don't know how bad it would have been. And it may not have been as bad as I think. But I think it would have been very, very bad.

Now there are certain industries when you talk about banks, you're talking about the entire financial system. Could have collapsed. When you talk about loaning money to, you know, make solar panels, where it makes no sense, or loaning money to make cars in Finland, or loaning money or not even loaning money, giving money to China, hundreds of millions of dollars a year to China, when they're, in fact, so rich and making -- they're making trillions. We're losing trillions. That's a whole different thing.

As far as the banks are concerned, you're talking about the financial system of this country, Piers. And I'll tell you what. I was there and I watched big, powerful bankers, arrogant guys, guys that were hot stuff, guys that thought they'd go into a restaurant, they were the kings. And I watched them and they were like weak, poor, pathetic men. They really thought it was over.

So -- and they're smart. So when you say, did they do the right thing? And I know it's not popular in some circles, I think you probably had to do it.

MORGAN: Well, the argument from someone at Goldman Sachs would be, look, we were in the situation we were in. It was important we didn't go under. Yes, we got bailed out but we paid it back. The taxpayer doesn't suffer. That's not an argument that resonates with the "Occupy Wall Street." What do you say to that argument?

TRUMP: Well -- well, because they didn't really -- I mean, when you think of it, they got very cheap money and they paid it back. But they're not loaning it out now and don't forget, there was an argument that you save the banks but you take over the banks. In other words, yes, we'll give money to Goldman Sachs but we own it. And we'll keep the same --

MORGAN: Should the government have done that?

TRUMP: Well, that was the other argument.

MORGAN: Then they --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I argued this. I mean --

MORGAN: They could be ordering them to release the money.

TRUMP: Well, no, I argued that. Frankly, you could have -- no. You sell it as soon as things get normal but shareholders came out rather well with the bailout. Now usually when something bad happens the shareholders get wiped out. Not necessarily the bondholders but the shareholders get wiped out. So the shareholders.

So there was a question for a period of time, in fact, I know they were thinking about it that if we're going to give Bank of America, you know, billions and billions of dollars, or Citi or almost all of the banks, but if we're going to give them money, congratulations. We own the bank. We own the bank. One hundred percent.

We're going to run the bank with the same people or different people but we're going to run the bank and when times get better we're going to make a lot of money and we're going to sell the bank at a tremendous profit. So they did a very, very tiny version of that. But the case could have been made that you do that.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break. I want to come back and talk to you about the Republican debates, Republican candidates, the tax plans they're putting up there. What do you think of all of your friends in the GOP.

TRUMP: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Trump is the type of person that if he wants to endorse you, you don't have to ask him. And if he gets to that point, I happen to believe, and I would do the same thing, that he's waiting for the field to narrow down a little bit more before he decides whether or not he wants to put his endorsement on any particular candidate. We did not even get into that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Donald, let's talk about politics and in particular the GOP. You've become -- whether you wanted to or not -- the kind of godfather of the GOP. They're all running up here to see you, to get your blessing, to get your advice, to get your opinions.

Why is that? Why have you become this talisman for them and what are you making of the Republican race at the moment?

TRUMP: Well, I think, first of all, they have some very good people running, and I've become friendly with some of them. But I don't think they want so much me. I think they want my ideas, what I represent, because I represent a large group of people, many millions of people, that feel that this country is certainly not what it used to be which is -- that's an understatement.

But because they look at what's going on with China, with OPEC, with India, with Mexico, with so many -- with everybody. The entire world is ripping off the United States. We don't make good deals anymore. You know it used to be years ago we'd never make a bad deal. We were smarter, we were tougher, we were better. We had all the cards. And now we never make a good deal. I mean you look at the --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: How much of this -- I'm going to come back to this a bit later, the whole -- the foreign aspect of this. But how much of this is done to America just being at the moment oddly inherently weak?

TRUMP: We're weak. We're pathetic. And it all stems from leadership. It's very simple.

MORGAN: How many leaders? How far do you go back --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I really think that -- look. I was never a big fan, you know very well. I'm extremely proud of you and the job you did, and thank you "Celebrity Apprentice", thank you, Donald Trump. The truth is you've done a great job and I'm proud of you. You also know me. I was never a fan of George Bush. I never liked what he did.

MORGAN: I remember you telling me once that you thought he put back America 50 years.

TRUMP: Well, he put it back a long way so I was never a fan but we've now taken it to a whole new level with Obama. Obama could have straightened it out. Now it's gotten so bad I'm not only talking about deficits. I'm saying we're just not respected anymore. We're at a level that we probably have never been at in terms of this country.

MORGAN: Well, I say is that Americans feel strangely vulnerable at the moment. They're not used to this. When you've been the superpower for my entire lifetime, and now there are these emerging superpowers to compete with you and doing so successfully.

TRUMP: Well, and we created those superpowers. We created our competition. You know so-called free trade which turned out really to be very unfair trade. China is going to make $350 billion this year on us and they're laughing at us. They're building George Washington bridges but much bigger all over the place.

We don't -- when was the last time you saw a major bridge being built in this country?

MORGAN: Why has America stopped doing that kind of thing?

TRUMP: Well, the environmental approvals are impossible.

MORGAN: Bureaucracy is crazy here, right?

TRUMP: The bureaucracy is unbelievable. I mean, if you want to build a bridge today, I have had many islands I was going to buy like near New York, near Manhattan. And I say, how long would it take to get a bridge built? And they say well, maybe 20 years, but I'm not sure we can ever get it. Twenty years.

In China, they built a bridge. You know what it's called? Build a bridge. Next day they start working.

MORGAN: Why can't the bureaucracy be eliminated?

TRUMP: Well --

MORGAN: Why can't somebody get a grip of that?

TRUMP: It can't be eliminated but it could certainly be made a lot quicker and a lot better and a lot more efficient. And we just don't do that. It's getting much worse. I mean the EPA is really, really tough. And I know the head of the EPA. She used to be in New Jersey and I really like her. Terrific.

But you know what? It's gotten so bad. I have friends they want to do things, Piers. They can't even think about it.

MORGAN: So which of all these Republican candidates at the moment do you think has it in him to get America out of this mess?

TRUMP: Well, I have to start off by saying I think any of them would be better than what we have now. We really have got a chief campaigner. You look at Obama. And I don't know him. I never met him. And I think he's truly a nice guy. I think he looks to me like a nice guy. But all he does is campaign.

He should be sitting behind his desk making sure that China stops with the rips. That all of these other countries, that OPEC -- I mean, every time, every time I see on your show or any other show that the economy is getting better, I say, watch what happens with oil prices. The next day oil prices go up $3 a barrel, and all of a sudden the economy comes back. Oil is such a power. It's a bigger power than interest rates in a certain way.

MORGAN: Clearly America will have a choice within a year now about which way to go with their president, and they're going to need the Republican Party, a candidate. The interesting thing about the race is that Mitt Romney has barely put a foot wrong but he's kind of flat lined around the 25 percent mark in all the polls. Can't seem to make the jump to being the outright frontrunner.

And we're seeing lots of people --

TRUMP: It's amazing.

MORGAN: We're seeing Rick Perry and Herman Cain and so on, coming along and seizing that kind of Tea Party vote. How big a problem is this for the Republicans, that the guy that most people think is probably the best option can't get the right kind of traction?

TRUMP: Well, look. I've gotten to know Mitt Romney very well and I'm very impressed by him. I think he's a terrific guy and I think he's a much different guy actually in person than what you watch on television, although I have to say even watching on television he was great in the debates.

So I think he does come along. I think he's doing fine but you're right. You know, why isn't he at 60 percent instead of 23 percent?

MORGAN: Why is it, do you think?

TRUMP: Nobody knows. Who, why.

MORGAN: Is he just not sexy enough? Do you think --

TRUMP: Well, he's a very handsome guy. He's got the look. He's got --

MORGAN: No, but --

TRUMP: He's got the brains.

MORGAN: Is he a bit dull?

TRUMP: I don't think so. I mean, I have to tell you, I've gotten to know him very well and I don't think so at all but for some reason it's not quite resonating yet, and the word yet is important. Ninety percent of the people, believe it or not. I saw this poll this morning on your station, on your channel, 90 percent of the people haven't even made up their mind yet in terms of the -- which is shocking to me. But they haven't really definitively made up their mind.

No, I think he's going to do well and I think he'd do well if he ended up winning. I met with Herman Cain.

MORGAN: What do you make of him?

TRUMP: I think he's a terrific guy.

MORGAN: I mean very charismatic. But he -- he does seem to be weak on what he really thinks about stuff?

TRUMP: Yes, but you know? You also get people. OK? You get people. I get you for certain things. I get somebody else. I mean, one of the problems that we have with our leader currently is that if you look at our trade negotiators, I know the top 25 killers in -- let's say Wall Street. I mean, I don't like to use the term because you know Wall Street is a sort of a big --

MORGAN: The financial business.

TRUMP: But I know the Wall Street, I know the killers of the world. They're better than -- we have the greatest business people in the world. Nobody close. And I take one, I say, guess what. Congratulations, you handle China. Come over here. You, handle Japan.

I mean everybody talks about Japan. And we all feel a little bit sorry for Japan but for years they've been ripping us like -- you know, like crazy. And they sell our -- their cars I mean to a point where we just build their economy and the yen is very strong and they're doing fine.

But when was the last time -- with all the Toyotas and all the cars that you see coming in, when was the last time do you think a Chevrolet was sold in Japan? OK? Now I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you not a lot of them are sold in Japan.

So I'd say you, you're going to take over Japan. You're going to negotiate with Japan. You, this one. You. How about South Korea? Because we protect --

MORGAN: Does Herman -- could Herman Cain do that?

TRUMP: I think so. I mean I think that you -- what you do is you've got to get people. You can get people better than yourself to do things.

MORGAN: But is Herman Cain from -- the guy that you've spoken to, is he the kind of man --

TRUMP: Yes, I think he is.

MORGAN: -- considering her business background, he's been successful. Is he the kind of guy that can turn things around?

TRUMP: You know what impressed me with Herman Cain? I really thought he was a great guy. He had a great leadership style. Sort of a wonderful personality. And the thing that's most disappointing -- you know, when Obama got elected, I wasn't an Obama fan, but when he got election, I really thought he was going to be an amazing cheerleader for this country. I thought -- and I wanted him to be. If I said you go back and check your tapes from three years ago, I mean, you'd say, do a great job. I hope you're going to be the greatest since Abraham Lincoln. Not a bad president, right?

So I hope you're going to be the best we ever had. I really did. Even though I'm a Republican, I mean I hope that. The truth is he's been a very negative force. Everything's negative. He gets nothing done. He doesn't get these guys. You know when they played golf, I actually thought that was a good thing. A lot of people say, oh.

I thought that was a great thing because I thought him and Boehner and the group, they would have -- sort of, maybe, because a lot of good deals happen on golf courses. OK? And I thought that was a great thing. Unfortunately, they didn't have a second round. I mean it never worked out, and the level -- the level of hatred between the Democrats and the Republicans --

MORGAN: It doesn't help anything, does it?

TRUMP: No. It doesn't help.

MORGAN: Let's take another break. I'm going to come back and ask you about Karl Rove who attacked Rick Perry on Tuesday, I think it was, and said that basically anyone that still questions the birther issue with President Obama is in the nutty fringe element.

TRUMP: OK.

MORGAN: Which is I think where you come in, Donald.

TRUMP: I guess that sounds like me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Donald, Karl Rove blasted Rick Perry when he recently refloated this whole notion of the birther issue in terms of President Obama. Was he born here or not? Karl Rove said, "If Rick Perry really wants to win he's got to stay clear of, quote, the nutty fringe element who continue to claim the president's birthplaces in doubt. That I guess brings you into the nutty fringe element category as far as he's concerned.

What do you think of that?

TRUMP: You know it's sort of interesting. When I first started talking about that, and again, I've always sort of felt it. I've had a -- I've had a feeling. But when I got involved and you know how well I did in terms of the polls.

MORGAN: Yes.

TRUMP: Even when I got out. I was leading in the polls. In fact I was watching your friends on NBC and I will tell you that -- actually let's see, it was "Meet the Press," and it was David Gregory, and they had a poll, and I was in number one place and the next day I was announcing that were going to do a big season of "Celebrity Apprentice" again at the (INAUDIBLE), and -- so I did very well. I did nice especially for a nonpolitician, but I speak my mind.

And I will tell you that I always told people, you know, I'm a very smart guy. I got good marks. I was all this. I went to the best college. The Wharton School of Finance, which to me is like the greatest business school. And I'd always preface it because they made these birthers as they call them in a very derogatory term but they made the birthers sound like they didn't know what was happening.

The fact is there are a lot of people that happened to agree with, like, as an example, why wasn't this birth certificate given when Hillary and when McCain and when everybody was asking? Ultimately, I'm very proud of what I did because I got him to give something. Now as to whether or not --

MORGAN: Do you accept that what he produced is valid?

TRUMP: No, I don't necessarily.

MORGAN: But you believe he probably was born in America?

TRUMP: Well --

MORGAN: No?

TRUMP: I say he might have been.

MORGAN: But what does your gut tell you? Because you are a smart guy.

TRUMP: My gut tells me a couple of things. Number one, you know, it took a long time to produce the certificate and when it came out as you know, you check out the Internet, many people say it is not real. OK? That it's a forgery.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, I mean --

TRUMP: That's what they say. I don't know if it was.

MORGAN: That's why the Internet is a lot of nonsense, isn't it?

TRUMP: You know what? OK, fine. But you know, they go over it and lots of different things and lots of different reasons. And the other thing is nobody has been able to see, you know, the day of his birth, they had twins born. They had -- the other one born. Nobody has been able to find any records that he was born in that hospital.

MORGAN: Tell me this. Do you think politically for Rick Perry --

TRUMP: I think it's -- I think it's a positive for him.

MORGAN: Is it a sensible thing for him to do?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's good for him in the Republican primary. I don't necessarily know if it's good in the general election. But I do think I disagree with Karl Rove -- I respect Karl Rove, but I disagree with him because I think that probably -- especially, you know, do you look what's happened to Rick? Now, Rick was another one. We had dinner. We got to know each other. A good guy.

MORGAN: Yes, what do you make of him?

TRUMP: Well, it's --

MORGAN: Because -- I mean in the debates he's pretty shocking, isn't he?

TRUMP: I don't know what happened because when you're with him he's great. I mean he was really -- I mean, we had a really good time.

MORGAN: Is he -- is he articulate?

TRUMP: He is different.

MORGAN: Is he fun? Is he -- all those things he doesn't seem to be on --

TRUMP: He called me after the debates. I said, what happened to you? So why cant you act? They actually called me a few days ago and hr very forceful and very strong and very -- something on something he was asking me, and I said, why can't you act like that on the debates? You know? The camera goes on. Why can't you act like that?

He said, it's just not my thing. Which is OK, I understand that. I know some people that are fantastic people but they can't do television. If they had to sit down with you for an interview, they'd be like -- it would be -- they wouldn't sleep for three months.

MORGAN: Well, I'd love to interview Rick Perry. I think he's a very charismatic character.

TRUMP: Are you interviewing him?

MORGAN: I'd love to.

TRUMP: Why aren't you, though?

MORGAN: Can you put in a good word?

TRUMP: Well, I mean, I would. I'm just curious as to why --

MORGAN: He'll do what you tell him.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: But -- you know, so I was a little bit surprised. But I actually think the birther for him is sort of a positive. Now I think he's pulling away because there's a group of people that think it's something he shouldn't discuss. I don't care. You know, personally, I don't care. I'm doing -- it's a -- I'm a businessman. What I say, I guess, a lot of people are listening to. In fact, many millions of people are listening to and that's why, you know, it's interesting when they come up to my office, they don't want my money. They want my endorsement. Every one of them. They want the endorsement. Because I represent millions of people. But I will tell you.

MORGAN: You said to me --

TRUMP: The issue -- just to finish.

MORGAN: Yes.

TRUMP: I don't discuss birther. You brought it up. I don't bring -- I never bring it up. Because the real issue now is jobs, the economy, stopping the world from ripping us, getting back to greatness for this country which we're going in the wrong direction. But I think it's an issue that if somebody brings it up, it's certainly an issue that's worth talking about.

I mean there are a lot of reasons to think that he wasn't born in this country. Absolutely. And I say that as an intelligent person.

MORGAN: He would say he's put it to rest and the fact that Rick Perry is backtracking I guess suggest that he is sensing it's no longer as the motive --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, it's a very volatile issue. It's a very volatile issue. I mean, when somebody brings it up. I think probably Perry got a tremendous earful over the last few days because he did bring it up. He used my name which I don't think he should have done.

You know he used my name. We had dinner. That's a private dinner. And Trump said that he is not sure, et cetera, et cetera about that whole situation, which probably he shouldn't have done but you know.

MORGAN: You said to me a while ago that when all the speculation was raging whether you'd run or not, you said, you know, I'm just going to wait and see what happens here before you said you weren't going to.

TRUMP: Right.

MORGAN: Because you said if I sense there's not a person that could beat Obama.

TRUMP: That's true. I say it now.

MORGAN: Well, I would say right now that it's still a very arguable point whether any of these candidates has got the kind of support in their own party, let alone the wider electorate, to probably beat Barack Obama.

Isn't that exactly the kind of environment you were thinking about and is it possible, given where we are, that you might still run? TRUMP: I'm looking. I'm looking very seriously. I would love to endorse somebody, I love what I'm doing, and I'd love to keep doing it. I'd love to endorse somebody that I think would, number one, win, number two, be really great, and a lot will depend on whether or not those two things happen and whether or not the economy continues to be bad, which I think it probably will because we have people that are incompetent running our government.

MORGAN: The election, I think, will definitely (INAUDIBLE) on the economy.

TRUMP: Yes.

MORGAN: And I could see you with your business background being a compelling choice for people. I'm surprised you are not very seriously considering it. Knowing you as a competitive man because you'd only run I think if you thought you could win.

TRUMP: That's true. And I don't need to be --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: And I think a strong Republican candidate now would have a very good chance.

TRUMP: I don't need to be Ross Perot. Nothing against Ross Perot but you know getting 19 percent of the vote, I don't think would be very tough at all. And the truth is, they hate both parties. I mean you have an independent group of people that, frankly, don't like the Republicans and they don't like the Democrats.

And I think that there would be an opportunity but I also think in my case, I'm a very conservative person. Although, you know, not as conservative perhaps as some but I'm pretty conservative. I think I'd probably hurt the Republicans. And unless I thought I could absolutely win -- I don't care if I hurt the Republicans if I thought I could win because the main thing is you have to get Obama out of office.

You have to end Obama-care. You have to get this country back on its footing again. And you know, if we don't do it, four more years like we're going through now, I don't know if the country can ever come back.

MORGAN: Hold that thought. Let's come back after the break, talk more about the economy and about jobs in particular. And also, this big tax debate going on.

TRUMP: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Donald, let's talk economy and taxation because one of the big debates raging now -- you've got Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 plan. You've got Rick Perry coming out with his 20-20-0 plan and so on. Everyone is trying to work out a way of getting through what everyone agrees is a ridiculously overcomplicated tax system.

TRUMP: True.

MORGAN: Now here's the rub. Warren Buffett comes out and says, as has President Obama, look, we did a lot better when taxation was higher, actually. If you look at the '80s and '90s, it's an inarguable fact that high taxation on wealthy people in particular doesn't inhibit their investment. You're one of the wealthiest men in America. Is that true?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's a very bad time to be raising taxes. That I can tell you. Now, every once in a while I look at something like ExxonMobil making billions and billions of dollars a quarter. Billions. So much money. More money than the United States makes.

And we're subsidizing them. Ridiculous. OK? Whether you like it, whether you don't like it, it doesn't make any sense. And you know, the way I look at like the Exxons and the oil companies, they've been in cahoots with our enemy which is OPEC. They've been in cahoots. They're the ones that distribute the oil.

You know OPEC takes it out of the ground and these guys come along and distribute it. For us to be subsidizing Exxon and other companies like ExxonMobil is absolutely insane and ridiculous.

Now, as far as the plans are concerned, before we can start raising taxes this country has to get going again. I mean, I just see every -- you look at 9.1 but you know don't forget, that's a phony number. That's a number --

MORGAN: There are a million more that's just given up.

TRUMP: Well, how about when you give up and then you're not considered unemployed? People that have looked for jobs for two years, and they give up. They can't do it. They're not going to get a job and they take that -- them off the unemployment number?

MORGAN: You're a big employer. How many people do you employ, roughly? Do you know?

TRUMP: Thousands, tens of thousands of people.

MORGAN: Right. Tens of thousands of people. How does America get people back to work? What is the best economic plan in terms of general thought process? I mean, you don't want to raise taxes. What is the simple way to stimulate growth and jobs?

TRUMP: Well, I have two primary ways. The first way by far is you must stop our jobs from leaving this country. We must start manufacturing our goods. Even if Barren Trump only has one or two little toy airplanes instead of 20. He only plays with two, and he only lets --

MORGAN: But just take Apple on that. Because Apple -- by the time Steve Jobs died and he was a complete genius, everyone accepts that. One of the great business men and creator that this country ever produced, right?

TRUMP: That's true.

MORGAN: Everyone agrees that. And yet by the end, more people were working for Apple in China than in America.

TRUMP: That's true.

MORGAN: Which for an American iconic company seemed totally perverse to me.

TRUMP: I think Steve was never hit and that's because of death with the fact that so many people and so much of his product comes out of China. And it can come out -- I saw a factory two weeks ago. I won't go in to which and what. But so incredible. The technology was so -- right here.

The technology is so -- we could be doing this stuff ourselves. They manipulate their currency. It's very hard for these companies -- for our companies to compete. But China manipulates like nobody has ever manipulated before in the history of this world and it makes it almost --

MORGAN: Do you have any stuff, I guess, made for you and your companies in China?

TRUMP: I do have stuff made. And I'm not happy about it.

MORGAN: How much? How much? A lot?

TRUMP: Well, a lot because when you build a building, I mean --

MORGAN: So if I throw it back to you --

TRUMP: I'll give you an example.

MORGAN: I think (INAUDIBLE), because come on, Donald, look. You've got to do what you're saying now. You've got to put your money where your mouth is. You've got to pull your work out of China. Lead the way. What would you say?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you this. Number one, take a building. I get bids on buildings. I get bid -- I build lots of buildings. And I get bids on curtain walls. Glass and aluminum and this. Many of the bids come from China. Now are they lower? Yes. And the reason they're lower is because they manipulate their currencies.

They make it very hard for companies in this country to compete. So what I would do, because you're asking me a question, how would you turn it. The first thing I'd do is I would take the abusers like China, in all fairness South Korea what they're doing -- if you order a television, Piers, you can't do it unless you get it through South Korea or some other country.

Where are our television? They're not made here anymore. I would take certain countries that have abused us and I would tax them. In the case of China, the tax, believe it or not -- this is how bad it is -- should be 41 percent. That's what the tax. But because I'm such a nice person I would only make it 25 percent.

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) reacting because you're always kicking them.

TRUMP: It's the most amazing thing. You know I just sold a house to a Chinese person. I just sold an apartment for $33 million to a Chinese company. I have the biggest bank in the world, a Chinese bank, one floor above where we are right now. One floor -- actually one floor below where we are right now. We are right now -- they might be listening to our conversation.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: The one thing that is going well for America still is Hollywood. Still making great movies and the business is good, and in fact they've made a great new movie, "Tower Heist."

TRUMP: That's true.

MORGAN: That's Eddie Murphy and others.

TRUMP: It is a great movie. God bless them.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Which was actually filmed in this building.

TRUMP: That's exactly right.

MORGAN: And it involves a despotic capitalist billionaire who gets his comeuppance.

TRUMP: That's true. Well, it wasn't me.

MORGAN: Well, let's just --

TRUMP: It was a Wall Street guy.

MORGAN: Let's come to find out who it was after the break, Donald.

TRUMP: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Donald, the Trump International Tower, we are here, is -- brings back memories for me of "Celebrity Apprentice."

TRUMP: Right.

MORGAN: Not all of them good, I have to say. Honestly they're like a tortured chamber at times.

TRUMP: Well, the end result was great. (LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Right? Look at you.

MORGAN: They made this movie "Tower Heist," Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and others, Renee -- and it sounds like a good old-fashioned caper and it's sort of very poetic and timely in the sense that it involves a capitalist billionaire who rips people off and then gets his comeuppance.

Well, I'm doing the math -- it's your tower.

TRUMP: Well, you know --

MORGAN: Something you want to tell me?

TRUMP: It was very interesting because it was supposed to be about me, and then I looked at the script, I said, I don't want that about me. So I actually loaned them the building and actually they did some at Trump International and some at Trump Tower, and I love Eddie Murphy and I think he's terrific.

I thought -- I think he really is great, too, because I saw the movie, I was at the premier last night. I also -- Ben Stiller is great. The whole group is great. I mean they have Alan Alda and Brett Ratner is the producer. And they did an amazing job. But I made sure it wasn't a real estate guy. It was a Wall Street guy. So, you know -- so it's one of those things. But I think the movie really was -- and the building showed beautifully.

MORGAN: Your old friend Rosie O'Donnell has got a new talk show going on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Have you sent flowers?

TRUMP: No, I haven't, but I hope she does well. And I actually hope she does -- she's had a very long string of failures, and I hope she does well because of Oprah. I love Oprah.

MORGAN: Now what do you think of Oprah?

TRUMP: I think Oprah is great. I love her. She is a friend of mine. I was --

MORGAN: As a businesswoman.

TRUMP: I was on her show the last week and it was like great. She had my whole family on. It was like this beautiful thing. I think she is an incredible woman, a beautiful woman, and I want her to do well with her network so I hope Rosie does well.

And frankly, I'd like to see Rosie do well anyway.

MORGAN: When you look at your own story, you look at Oprah Winfrey's story, you look at all these people, Steve Jobs, for example. Could people like you develop these empires in the way that you did then now? Is the climate able to encourage creative entrepreneurial people to do this? Is that part of the problem? TRUMP: I think we have a country that has tremendous untapped potential. You asked me before, what would you do? First, I'd stop the outside world from ripping us. The next thing I'd do is let us go in and go under this earth and harmlessly take out our energy, so we don't have to spend trillions of dollars to other countries where they're doing their roads and their airports and their bridges.

Let us get a tremendous number of jobs right here. We become energy self-sufficient quickly. But we have to be able to get people permits. Now we want it safe, we want it clean. We've got to be able to use coal again.

You know we ship coal over the China. They burn coal, we don't. I mean, we still do, but it's getting less and less and harder and harder. And we're the Saudi Arabia of coal. We ship coal to other countries. They use it for --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: The American dream has taken a bit of a battering.

TRUMP: A big battering.

MORGAN: You know the -- the idea you could come here and you could achieve great things --

TRUMP: It's true.

MORGAN: -- if you work hard has hit the skids a bit. What should the new American dream, the realistic one, be now?

TRUMP: Well, again, I think the country has unbelievable potential, almost greater than before, if we allow it to happen. But we have to get rid of these regulations that are just absolutely destroying us. They are destroying us.

Think of what I just said. We take coal and sell it to China, and they burn coal. Now there is clean coal and all of that. The solar thing is not working out. I know all about solar. I know about wind, I know about solar. And you know what, they're all fine, but they're not -- I did a solar project.

You know what the payback was? Thirty years. I get my money back in 30 years. Well, in 30 years, I mean the panels are going to be disintegrated in 15 years. So what does that mean?

So it's tough stuff. But we have so much energy right under our earth, right under this country, that we can be totally self- sufficient quickly between natural gas --

MORGAN: And I also heard that America is now one of the top exporters of corn to China. And it would seem to me with a population now of, what, seven billion?

TRUMP: Right. MORGAN: And tipped to rise to 12 billion in our lifetime, people have to eat. And America has some of the greatest agricultural land anywhere in the world. To me, some of these are no-brainers. Grow more food. Export that to these countries.

TRUMP: No brainers. And we're so good at it. But we have to be allowed to compete, we have to be allowed to do it, and we're not. We're just not. We're stymied.

Very interesting. So I'm in China, they're building a big city. They're building a new city, you know, they build cities all the time, right? And they're filling in the ocean. Now it's the ocean. But what they do is, it's a little strip. It's like a mile by a mile, so I said, this is amazing, because I'd live here.

I said, how long did it take you to get your permits? They look at me like, this guy can't believe he asked such a stupid question. They said, well, this was very quick, we -- like, immediate. They're going to build a city. They're going to employ thousands of people, they're going to house thousands.

I mean, it's crazy. In this country, if we ever wanted to take a little tiny speck, a little speck out of the ocean, out of the Hudson River, out of this, out of that, it's called the electric chair. You get the electric chair. It's crazy.

So we have to go back to our roots or we'll never be great again. And it has to happen quickly. Because if it doesn't happen quickly, big problems.

MORGAN: Take a final break and come back. Very quickly, we'll talked to you about your family. You've got grandchildren coming out all over the place, Donald.

TRUMP: I do have a lot of grandchildren.

MORGAN: You don't look old enough.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Donald, you've got grandchildren coming out of every one of your kids at the moment. Donald Jr. has had his third kid, Ivanka's had her first.

TRUMP: That's right.

MORGAN: How are you enjoying this new -- this new outburst of young Trumps?

TRUMP: Well, I've never been a big fan of the name "grandfather," but that's what I am. I mean I'm a grandfather.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: But you're aging well, Donald. TRUMP: Well, I hope so. But we're having a lot of fun. The "Celebrity Apprentice" continues to be a big hit, as you know. I'm very proud of the job we're doing.

MORGAN: The new inmates are I think in the Tower.

TRUMP: They're right here, right now. We're shooting it right now, I mean as we speak. We're literally shooting --

MORGAN: Are they all fresh faced, excited?

TRUMP: They're really good. I'll tell you --

MORGAN: Looking forward to it. Because I can give them a few little --

TRUMP: Well, you could give them --

MORGAN: Days of reckoning, if you like.

TRUMP: You could give them the ultimate tips, but the fact is, -- because you played the game just as well as anybody and better than just about everybody, if you really think about it. And I'm very proud of what you've done.

You win, you go on to this show, you go on to that show, and now -- and I love Larry King, but you're doing a fantastic job.

MORGAN: Well, thank you.

TRUMP: And by the way, Larry told me that also which I thought was --

MORGAN: That's very gracious of him. I appreciate it.

What does family mean to you?

TRUMP: Well, I think ultimately it's all about family. I mean, you know, you can eat so much and you want to make money and you want to have fun, and I do it for fun more than anything else. And I really do have a good time and I love putting people to work, and I love taking care of people, whether it's their health care or whether it's their education for their children.

But ultimately, what it's about is family. And if you have great family, great relationships, great marriages, or even friendships in some form, it's more important than all of the stuff we've been talking about.

MORGAN: You've got all the money you could ever wish for -- actually, you'd probably wish for more, I know you, being competitive. But you know you've achieved so much. When you wake up in the morning now, what really drives you? Is there a remaining great ambition you have?

TRUMP: I think the thing that drives me is I love what I'm doing. And I always tell people. Because I give many speeches on success. They ask me to speak on success. And in front of very, very large crowds. And I always talk about, you have to love it. If you don't love it, it's never going to work.

Now you have to have other things, you have to have this, you have to have lots of different things have to be going on. But you have to love what you do. And if you don't love it, Piers, if you didn't love what you were doing, you would not do it well.

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. I tell my three sons, find a job you love and it's not a job.

TRUMP: Right.

MORGAN: It's something else. It's a pleasure. You wake -- you might have a bad day, but it's still great.

TRUMP: Well, it's not work. They say -- I have friends, they go to work. I don't go to work. To me work is when there's no work and I'm, like, sitting around, I can't find anything to do, I'm supposed to be on vacation, which I don't take too often.

The nice part about my business, I have so many great clubs all over the world, that I can go there and I can consider it like a vacation. But the truth is, I guess it's work. But I don't consider it work.

MORGAN: How would you like to be remembered?

TRUMP: Well, I think somebody that did a really good job aesthetically, I've gotten tremendous reviews on buildings and courses and clubs and all of the things I build, it's very important to me, the aesthetic, but also somebody that's put lots of people to work and created lots of happy families. They really like being with me. And I'm very happy about that.

MORGAN: Donald, thank you very much.

TRUMP: Thank you.

MORGAN: That's all for us right now. Now "AC 360" with Anderson Cooper.