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Donald Trump, 45th President: A Controversial Leader

His School Years

Before he became the 45th United States President, Donald John Trump was more famously known as a real estate tycoon and reality TV star—not as someone who would someday become President. He surprised many when he won the 2016 election and left many with a visceral reaction to the news. Yet, many were drawn to him because he was not just another politician and had a strong business background.

On June 14, 1946, he was born in Queens, New York City, to his father, Fred Trump, and his mother, Mary (Macleod) Trump. His father was a low-key real estate developer who owned middle-income apartments in Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. Little Donald would someday follow his father's footsteps by pursuing the same career but with a much bigger vision. His mother, Mary, was a homemaker and an immigrant from Scotland. Donald was the fourth of five children.

When he was thirteen years old, his parents sent him to New York Military Academy, where he thrived socially and academically. He graduated in 1964.

After high school, he attended Fordham University but transferred to Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in economics in 1968. During the summers in college, he worked at construction sites for Trump Organization, his father's company. After graduation, he began his long-standing real estate career when joining the family business. By 1974, he became President of the company.

Trump: The Business Tycoon

Three years before becoming President, he moved to Manhattan, where he began his ambitious endeavors. His first ample opportunity occurred when the Pennsylvania Central Railroad filed for bankruptcy. He obtained an option for the property on the west side of Manhattan. Although his plans to build apartment complexes were refused, he offered the location for a city convention center. The city government chose the site but turned him down to build the complex.

As he tried to secure plans for that location, he obtained another option on a Penn Central hotel called the Commodore. Although the hotel was not profitable, he managed to make a partnership agreement with Hyatt Hotel Corporation. Together, they revamped the hotel and had great success due to the excellent location near Grand Central Station. This move made his name known as a real estate developer.

He would go on to build Trump Tower in Manhattan (NY), open hotel-casinos, including the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (NJ), bought Mar-a-Lago Estate in Palm Beach (FL), and acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan (NY). Of these ventures, Trump Tower was the most notable. He built this apartment-retail complex in a space he rented off Fifth Avenue next to Tiffany & Company. It was a $200 million, 58-story building with a six-story courtyard with pink marble and an 80-foot waterfall. Der Scutt, a well-known modernist architect, designed it.

Some of his business ventures were much more short-lived, like when he owned an airline and a professional football team part of the United States Football League that only existed for three seasons.

Trump: The Billionaire

He not only built and bought real estate; he was also an author. He wrote a memoir entitled “The Art of the Deal,” giving business advice. It became a bestseller and the #1 book of the year. Many still consider it a business classic today. Soon after, he established the Donald J. Trump Foundation; he developed the foundation so that a portion of the profits of his book sales would be donated to charities. After the success of his first book, he continued to write thirteen more bestsellers.

In 1989, Forbes recognized him as a billionaire when his net worth reached $1.5 billion. He was on the cover of Time magazine for the first time. As all real entrepreneurs know, businesses succeed, and they fail. He hit a rough patch for several years, and in 1995, his taxes reported a $1 billion loss. Due to his ambition and hard work, finances and his businesses flourished again. Although he still focused on real estate, he also tried his hand at other companies. By 1997, he could boast of having a net worth of $2 billion. When he became president, his net worth was quoted at $10 billion, making him the first billionaire President.

Trump: The Celebrity

As Trump's businesses grew, he became well known. He used that name to license many products, including board games, furniture, menswear, cologne, vodka, and steaks. In 1996, he bought and became the executive producer of Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe pageants and owned them until 2015.

He made cameo appearances in several movies, including "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" and "Zoolander." Then he started his own TV reality show in 2004 on NBC called "The Apprentice." Aspiring entrepreneurs competed against one another for managerial positions in one of his companies. When he dismissed contestants from the show, Trump would say his catchphrase, "You're fired," signaling them they did not make the cut. The show brought a large viewer base, and eventually, he earned $1 million per episode. Due to its success, a spin-off entitled, "Celebrity Apprentice" began.

How Many Times Has Trump Been Married?

He has been married three times. At the beginning of his business success, he met and then married his first wife, Ivana Zelnickova Winklmayr, in 1977. She was a New York fashion model. They had three children together—Donald John, Jr. (December 31, 1977), Ivanka (October 30, 1981), and Eric (1984). He divorced Ivana in 1990 in a very public divorce that tarnished his reputation. He was married to his second wife, actress Marla Maples, from December 1993 - June 1999. They had one child, Tiffany (October 13, 1993). On January 22, 2005, he married his current wife, Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model. They had one son, Barron (March 20, 2006), who lives with him in the White House.

Running for President

The year he finally ran for the presidency was not the first time becoming President had crossed his mind. In 1999, he considered seeking the Reform Party’s nomination for the presidential race of 2000. After forming an exploratory committee to help him decide whether this was a good idea, he backed out due to problems within the Party.

In June 2015, Trump officially announced his presidential candidacy during a speech at Trump Tower. He chose to use a similar campaign as Ronald Reagan did, “Make America Great Again.” He was outspoken during the race against political correctness, illegal immigration, and government lobbyists. He promised to cut taxes, create millions of jobs, and renegotiate trade deals. He surprised many when he received the Republican nomination, despite running against 16 other candidates, including Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich.

He chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate and ran against Democrat Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton’s first lady. She was the first female presidential candidate from a major political party. Unfortunately, Republicans were split on their support of the candidate. Many detested his outspokenness, while others appreciated his frank way of speaking. Many were drawn to his business success and liked that he was not a politician.

Many expected Hillary Clinton to win due to national polls predicting a win for her, added to Republicans speaking out against Trump. Many were shocked when Trump was nominated president with 306 electoral votes versus Hillary’s 232. Even though Trump won 62 million votes, Clinton held the popular vote, more than any other Republican nominee ever had. Donald Trump became the first United States President who had never held a government or elected position and never served in the military. On January 20, 2017, he took the oath of office.

Accomplishments During Presidency

Since becoming President, controversy and even impeachment hearings have surrounded him. His first big move in office was when he signed an executive order that stopped all refugee arrivals for 120 days and banned seven different countries considered high-risk countries from traveling to the United States. The order was challenged in court because some believed he targeted the Islam faith since all seven were primarily Muslim nations. Trump countered by signing an executive order banning immigration from only six countries, removing Iraq from the list. Eventually, United States District Judge Theodore D. Chuang blocked the traveling band, stating it was unconstitutional.

He gets a lot of negative attention from the media yet continues to set out what he promised during his campaign.

Fun Facts

  • He married three times and has five children and eight grandchildren as of 2017. His youngest son Barron was born to his current wife, Melania. His other children are Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric, and Tiffany.
  • Used the slogan "Make American Great Again," which was used previously by Ronald Reagan when he ran against Jimmy Carter.
  • He has published fourteen books.
  • First President to not have any government or military experience.
  • The first billionaire to become President.

Basic Facts



June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York City, New York

President Number




Military Service


Wars Served


Age at Beginning of Presidency

70 years old

Term of Office

January 20, 2017 - current

How Long President



Mike Pence

Age and Year of Death


Cause of Death



"Donald Trump Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Accessed February 04, 2018.

"Donald Trump Fast Facts." CNN. October 13, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2017.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Angela Michelle Schultz