How Donald Trump made his fortune

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is known for his business ventures and wealth. His fortune has been a subject of interest and speculation for many years. Trump’s business career spans several decades and encompasses various industries, including real estate, entertainment, and branding. In this article, we will explore how Donald Trump made his fortune and the key milestones in his business journey.

Early Life and Education:

Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York City. He was the fourth of five children born to Fred Trump, a successful real estate developer, and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump. From an early age, Donald Trump showed an interest in business and real estate, likely influenced by his father’s work.

Trump attended the Kew-Forest School in Queens, and later, the New York Military Academy, where he excelled academically and athletically. In 1964, he enrolled at Fordham University, and after two years, transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.

Real Estate Ventures:

Donald Trump’s entry into the real estate industry can be traced back to his early days working for his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son. The company was involved in the development and management of middle-class rental housing in New York City’s boroughs.

In 1971, Trump took control of the company and renamed it The Trump Organization. He shifted the focus from affordable housing to commercial real estate ventures, particularly in Manhattan. One of his earliest projects was the revitalization of the Commodore Hotel, which he transformed into the Grand Hyatt New York. The success of this project helped establish Trump’s reputation as a skilled real estate developer.

Throughout the 1970s, Trump continued to make a name for himself in the New York real estate scene. He acquired and developed properties such as Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, Trump Plaza, Trump Parc, and Trump Park Avenue. These luxury residential and commercial buildings became symbols of his brand and showcased his flamboyant style.

Atlantic City and Casinos:

In the 1980s, Trump expanded his business empire into the casino industry. He acquired several properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey, including the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, and the Trump Marina Hotel Casino. Trump saw Atlantic City as an opportunity to establish himself as a prominent player in the gambling industry.

However, Trump’s ventures in Atlantic City were not without challenges. Despite initial success, his casinos faced financial difficulties due to excessive debt and increased competition. In 1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, followed by his other casinos in subsequent years. Trump’s casino empire was eventually restructured, and he relinquished his majority ownership.

Business Branding and Entertainment:

Beyond real estate and casinos, Donald Trump’s name and brand became synonymous with luxury and success. He capitalized on his public image and expanded his business ventures into various industries.

Trump became a familiar face through his involvement in television, particularly as the host of the reality TV show “The Apprentice,” which first aired in 2004. The show featured aspiring entrepreneurs competing for a chance to work with Trump and showcased his business acumen. “The Apprentice” became a significant success and further elevated Trump’s public profile.

In addition to his television ventures, Trump licensed his name and brand to a wide range of products and services. From Trump-branded clothing, accessories, and fragrances to Trump University, a real estate training program, he sought to monetize his image and reputation.

Notable Developments and International Ventures:

Throughout his career, Donald Trump undertook several ambitious projects and international ventures. One notable example is the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, a 98-story skyscraper completed in 2009. The building includes a hotel, condominiums, and retail space, and it became one of Trump’s most recognizable developments.

Trump also expanded his brand globally, licensing his name to various projects around the world. This included luxury residential towers in cities such as Istanbul, Manila, Mumbai, and Seoul, among others. These international ventures allowed Trump to extend his reach and tap into new markets.

Wealth and Financial Statements:

Determining the exact extent of Donald Trump’s fortune is a subject of debate and speculation. Trump himself has provided varying estimates of his net worth over the years, and Forbes magazine has tracked his wealth with its annual billionaire list.

During his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump claimed to have a net worth of over $10 billion. However, Forbes estimated his net worth to be closer to $4.5 billion in 2015. It is worth noting that evaluating the precise value of Trump’s assets, given the complexities of his business holdings, can be challenging.

Trump’s financial statements and tax returns have also been a topic of discussion. Prior to his presidency, Trump chose not to release his tax returns publicly, breaking with the tradition of presidential candidates. This lack of transparency has led to speculation and scrutiny regarding the details of his financial affairs.


Donald Trump’s fortune is a result of his successful forays into real estate, casinos, branding, and entertainment. From his early days working for his father’s company to becoming a prominent real estate developer in New York City, Trump leveraged his business acumen, public image, and branding to expand his wealth.

While some of his ventures, such as his Atlantic City casinos, faced financial difficulties, Trump managed to rebound and maintain his status as a high-profile entrepreneur. His brand, recognized globally, allowed him to explore international projects and extend his business interests beyond U.S. borders.

It is important to note that Donald Trump’s business career and wealth are complex, and the exact details of his fortune may remain elusive. However, his impact on the real estate industry, popular culture, and politics is undeniable, making him one of the most well-known and controversial figures of his time.