Ci­ti­zen Trump Upends The Oval Of­fice


FORBES and don­ald Trump. Talk about a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship. It’s been so for 35 years, since the birth of The Forbes 400. First, he was Play­boy Trump. Then, The Don­ald. Then, Repub­li­can-can­di­date Trump. As New York’s ring­mas­ter ex­traor­di­naire, he loved our rich list—un­til the new­est one came out. Then he hated it, or at least the num­ber we pinned on him. It was al­ways too low—or “very low,” as only he can say it. As leg­end goes, it was so low one year he had words with the Forbes fam­ily.

Now, as pres­i­dent of the United States, he sent sig­nals he wanted an­other Forbes cover (his fourth solo cover), much like celebri­ties rack up host­ing gigs on Satur­day Night Live. In the midst of a na­tional tragedy, hur­ri­canes and his early morn­ing Twit­ter fisticuffs, he was ready to make the time. We were ready to oblige—in re­turn for an in­ter­view fo­cused on the first busi­ness pres­i­dent. Forbes and Trump. Maybe it’s more of a func­tional code­pen­dency.

Trump is Trump. He will al­ways be so, whether sit­ting be­hind a ma­jes­tic desk in the Oval Of­fice, where we talked with him last week, or at the “very best” ta­ble at Jean-ge­orges, a three­star Miche­lin restau­rant in the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel & Tower ad­ja­cent to Colum­bus Cir­cle, where he took me to lunch sev­eral years ago. Yet this time he feigned no in­ter­est in his billions. No ac­coun­tant was in tow to prove his net worth. Sur­round­ing him this day were paint­ings, sculp­tures and writ­ings of Washington and Lin­coln. Dur­ing our 50-minute in­ter­view he never asked what the num­ber would be, spar­ing us a tongue­lash­ing and an in­au­gu­ral-crowd-like me­dia brouhaha.

Amer­ica’s CEO for ten months, Trump’s unique C-suite mind has up­ended all White House norms, yet his new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties hum­bled him for a split sec­ond—“noth­ing pre­pares you for . . . when you send mis­siles, that means peo­ple are go­ing to die. And noth­ing pre­pares you for that.” That can make it a “lonely” job, he says. He cer­tainly snapped to life as our cam­era crew walked in. Re­mem­ber, he is the mas­ter of his own im­age and was fix­ated on the pho­tog­ra­phy.

And he loves his cur­rent real es­tate, even though it can never re­ally be his. The pres­i­dent joy­fully showed our ed­i­tor, Ran­dall Lane, and me a bit of his new stomp­ing grounds—a well-ap­pointed ter­race, a now-cov­ered pool, a fa­bled room and the beau­ti­ful golf-course-like green­ery out­side his Oval Of­fice win­dow. He seemed as proud of the land­scape as he is of Mar-a-lago. From the Big Ap­ple to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Forbes and Trump live on.

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