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304

The Life of Donald Trump

Oct 7, 2022
History
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24
minutes

He was the 45th President of the USA and the most controversial in recent history.

In this episode, we look at the life of Donald J. Trump and examine how he went from real estate developer to the leader of the free world.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about the life of Donald Trump.

[00:00:28] Now, no doubt you need no reminder of who Donald Trump is.

[00:00:32] His presidency was one of the most controversial in recent American political history, and impossible to ignore.

[00:00:41] We’re all well aware of his scandals: all the things he said and did - both true and ‘fake news’, as he would say.

[00:00:48] But we’re not here to talk about his presidency today. 

[00:00:52] We’re here to talk about his life before he became leader of the free world.

[00:00:57] We’ll take a look at his early life and the impact of his parents.

[00:01:01] His businesses, and many business failures.

[00:01:04] His scandals, and criminal investigations.

[00:01:07] And consider whether or not he really wanted to be president, or he simply became the most powerful man in the world… by accident.

[00:01:17] OK then, the life of Donald Trump. 

[00:01:22] On a June afternoon in 2015, a small crowd waited around in the basement of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper

[00:01:32] There was a small stage, and posters promising to ‘Make America Great Again’ on the walls.

[00:01:39] Then, suddenly, everyone turned and all eyes looked up towards a golden escalator.

[00:01:47] First, the shoes came into view. 

[00:01:49] Then the legs, the midsection, the tie, and, finally, a shock of poorly dyed blonde hair and a cheesy grin.

[00:01:59] The reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump was slowly descending the golden escalator, and he just announced his candidacy to be president of the United States.

[00:02:11] It was an escalator ride that altered American history forever.

[00:02:16] Almost exactly 69 years before this, a Scottish immigrant named Mary MacLeod gave birth to a boy. 

[00:02:24] His name was Donald John Trump, and he was born in New York on the 14th of June, 1946.

[00:02:33] His father, Fred Trump, was a brash, outspoken New York real estate developer.

[00:02:40] Fred and Donald were, you could say, a great example of the famous phrase: ‘Like father, like son.’

[00:02:47] Fred Trump had made his fortune building thousands of apartment units, mostly in Brooklyn, New York, for some of the city’s poorest people.

[00:02:57] But he didn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart, of course.

[00:03:01] Rather, Fred Trump took government money to build social housing, but didn’t quite tell the real truth about how much the construction, the building would cost, meaning he would charge the government more and put the difference in his pocket.

[00:03:18] While clearly, as a businessman, he was allowed to make a profit, his business practices raised eyebrows so much that he was investigated in 1954 by the Senate Banking Committee for overestimating the costs of his construction projects and keeping the difference for himself.

[00:03:37] But that’s just the start.

[00:03:39] Fred Trump was not only a man of questionable, shady business practices, like his son would be accused of being, but there is also substantial evidence to suggest that he would discriminate against his tenants based on the colour of their skin.

[00:03:57] Specifically, African American tenants weren’t treated well by Fred Trump.

[00:04:03] In 1967 after black tenants were repeatedly rejected for apartment applications, an investigation concluded that of the almost 4000 apartments in Trump Village, one of Fred’s many housing complexes, just seven were occupied by African-American families.

[00:04:24] Now, Donald Trump might have got the taste for business, and perhaps slightly questionable business practices, from his father, but there were plenty of maternal influences too, influences from his mother.

[00:04:39] Specifically, for his style and his trademark hair, he has his mother to thank.

[00:04:45] She also had a love for eccentric hairstyles, and for many years Mary, his mother, sported a dramatic orange swirl reminiscent of her son’s infamous hairdo.

[00:04:58] She often wore fur coats and extravagant jewellery, and Donald Trump has frequently acknowledged his mother’s influence on his personality.

[00:05:08] In his 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’ he wrote: “Looking back, I realise now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother.”

[00:05:20] Mary’s sense of showmanship would take her son onto every TV screen in America, and then into the White House.

[00:05:28] Anyway, back to young Donald’s early life.

[00:05:32] After attending a private boarding school, Trump initially studied at Fordham University in the Bronx but in 1966 he went on to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

[00:05:46] During his studies he managed to avoid being ‘drafted’ into the Army to fight in the Vietnam war.

[00:05:53] But in 1968, by the time he had finished his studies, Trump was initially declared eligible to fight but, as you may know, he was given another medical deferral - for bone spurs, basically hard bumps that develop on the end of bones. 

[00:06:13] This was essentially a doctor’s letter saying “don’t send him to Vietnam, he isn’t healthy enough”. So, he never went.

[00:06:22] Now, there has been plenty of controversy about this, and it has since been suggested that the doctor who diagnosed his bone spurs was a tenant in a Trump building and did Fred, Donald's father, a favour. 

[00:06:37] Upon his graduation, and safe from the battlefield, Donald began working with his father and soon got into the spirit of the family business.

[00:06:46] By 1971, at the age of just 25, he was made President. 

[00:06:53] Not President of the United States, of course, that would have to wait. President of his father’s real estate business.

[00:07:00] It seems that the young Donald was quite happy to go along with his father’s questionable business practices, and his career would be plagued, filled, with legal difficulties and accusations of wrongdoing.

[00:07:15] In 1973 Fred and Donald, along with their company, then called Trump Management, were sued by the U.S. Justice Department for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act for alleged racial discrimination at their apartment buildings in New York City.

[00:07:34] Both Fred, who was Chairman, and Donald, the company president, were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

[00:07:41] It might not have been for a great reason, but this was Donald’s first time in the national spotlight, and he certainly made the most of it.

[00:07:51] In response, the Trumps decided to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million, but the matter was eventually settled out of court in an arrangement that meant they didn’t have to admit any guilt, any wrongdoing.

[00:08:09] In the late 1970’s and 1980’s Donald began to go upmarket, and move the family business from affordable housing into luxury hotels and casinos. 

[00:08:22] To do this, however, he needed two things.

[00:08:26] Money, and lots of it. 

[00:08:28] And political connections to get purchases and planning permission approved.

[00:08:34] Fred Trump, his father, had both.

[00:08:37] And it’s here, really, that the career of Donald Trump took off.

[00:08:41] It all started, in Trump’s own words, with a ‘small loan of one million dollars’ from his father. 

[00:08:48] Now, 1 million dollars in the early 1970s is about 7 million dollars now, it’s not everyone’s definition of a “small loan”. 

[00:08:58] And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump was actually loaned a lot more than he first claimed.

[00:09:06] With this money, he continued buying up properties, and in 1983 opened the famous Trump Tower, an office, retail, and housing complex that would become the headquarters of the Trump Organization - and where he famously announced his candidacy for president after descending the golden escalator in 2015.

[00:09:28] From here, the developments continued to grow, and of course the Trump name was plastered all over every new building. 

[00:09:37] Using loans and political favours, he bought and developed Trump Plaza in 1984, and the 19-story Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $400 million.

[00:09:50] In 1985 he bought the famous Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in Florida, the estate that he would later refer to as the Winter White House, an estate where it turned out he had been keeping classified materials after handing over the presidency.

[00:10:06] On top of this there were casinos in Atlantic City, an airline, and a smorgasbord of interlinked business ventures. All, of 

[00:10:15] course, named Trump something or other.

[00:10:19] But much like the fortunes of politicians, the world of business is often unpredictable and success can ‘ebb and flow’ with the economy.

[00:10:29] ‘Ebb and flow’, by the way, basically means something that goes up or down or varies.

[00:10:35] Well, when economies across the Western world started to fall into recession in the early 1990s, the many Trump Organization businesses also began to suffer.

[00:10:46] Trump struggled to keep up with his debt payments, the money he owed, which is believed to have gone into the billions; although, as we know from his time in the White House, he likes to keep his financial records close to his chest, or top secret.

[00:11:03] After trying to restructure some of his businesses, Trump was forced to give up his airline and sell his superyacht called the ‘Trump Princess’, he was forced to take out new mortgages on all of his businesses, and limit himself to a personal budget.

[00:11:20] But the financial difficulties continued to grow.

[00:11:23] Trump Taj Mahal casino was called into bankruptcy court in 1991 - it was $3 billion in debt just one year after opening its doors - and two of his other casinos, as well as his Plaza Hotel in New York City, also went bankrupt in 1992. 

[00:11:42] Things got so bad in the 1990’s that Trump almost went personally bankrupt, and in 1992, with banks threatening to foreclose on the huge loans they had given him, Trump agreed to turn over many of his remaining assets.

[00:11:59] From that moment on, most major banks were sceptical about doing business with the self-styled “very stable genius”, and the Trump brand moved mostly into entertainment ventures.

[00:12:12] As always, Trump’s true business value was unclear: estimates of his net worth during this rocky period in the 1990’s varied from the billions to the negative millions.

[00:12:26] Our next stop is a place where you might have first become aware of Donald Trump: on a TV screen.

[00:12:34] Despite all the business successes and failures, and being relatively well known in New York social circles, nothing made Trump more famous or set him on the road to the White House] more than the reality TV show, The Apprentice.

[00:12:50] Not only could he present himself as a highly successful businessman on TV screens across America - never mentioning all the legal cases and bankruptcies, of course - he also made quite a lot of money from the show.

[00:13:03] It is believed that Trump made around $200 million from The Apprentice.

[00:13:08] But to someone who would claim to be a billionaire, and someone who clearly had a keen understanding of the value of a brand, The Apprentice gave him something much more valuable. 

[00:13:20] It positioned him in the minds of the American public as a “self-made billionaire”.

[00:13:27] And for a nation with an almost religious infatuation with businessmen and making money, this was priceless.

[00:13:36] The 2008 relaunch of the show, The Celebrity Apprentice, brought him into celebrity circles, confirmed his position as a household name in American TV society, and his well known signature catch phrase - ‘you’re fired’ - gave him authority in the minds of the American public.

[00:13:55] America had seen him in a carefully controlled business situation on The Apprentice looking decisive and authoritative. 

[00:14:03] This seed that he planted in the 2000s would come in useful later on.

[00:14:09] But if we put aside the self-made billionaire TV persona for a moment, Trump certainly had some very big business failures over the years, including, but not limited to, Trump Steaks; a Trump Ice bottled water brand; Trump Vodka; and, of course, the prestigious Trump University.

[00:14:30] Trump University, or, The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, as it became known when authorities declared it misleading and possibly illegal to describe as a university, was an educational service that offered classes in real-estate investment and entrepreneurialism, and the chance to learn from the great real estate mogul himself.

[00:14:51] For the small price of up to $50,000 you too could learn how to become a real estate billionaire, just like Donald Trump.

[00:15:01] It sounded too good to be true. You´d only needed to pay $50,000 but you’d learn the secrets to become a billionaire?

[00:15:09] It turned out that it might just have been too good to be true. 

[00:15:13] In 2011 Trump University was investigated by the New York Attorney General, and in August of 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil lawsuit alleging that the business had lied to and defrauded its students.

[00:15:32] After denying the allegations for a few years, Trump eventually settled the lawsuits for $25 million in November 2016, after he had been elected president.

[00:15:46] So, how exactly did Donald go from TV star to president of the free world?

[00:15:53] Was the White House always part of his plan, or was it an elaborate marketing strategy that ‘got out of hand’?

[00:16:00] Was he a committed politician, or a shameless opportunist? 

[00:16:04] Well, despite what Trump might have said on the campaign trail back in 2016, it's believed that he first considered a presidential run, as a Republican, as far back as 1988.

[00:16:18] He was never quite the anti-establishment, political outsider he makes himself out to be, and had been involved with politics, on some level, for most of his life.

[00:16:30] In 2000 he was a presidential candidate for the third-party Reform party but he withdrew after winning two primaries.

[00:16:39] He then unofficially campaigned for a while in 2012, and reportedly also considered a run in 2014.

[00:16:48] It's safe to say that Trump had flirted with the idea for many years, but had no strong political ideology or values guiding him and wasn’t really interested in things that he couldn’t win or profit from.

[00:17:03] Although he was a Republican president and is now considered anything from moderately to extremely right-wing, Trump’s political donations over the years make for very interesting reading. 

[00:17:16] Specifically, until 2010, he had donated more to the Democrats than he had to the Republican party.

[00:17:25] And his official party affiliation has also changed over the years. 

[00:17:30] He initially registered as a Republican back in 1987, switched to the Reform Party for that brief presidential run in 2000, was a Democrat between 2001 and 2009, and then finally switched back to the Republicans in 2009.

[00:17:49] In fact, and you might find this very surprising, in 2008 he actually endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, but then supported the Republican John McCain for president.

[00:18:04] So, back to his path to the presidency.

[00:18:07] In February 2011 Trump appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and although his speech there is believed by some to have ignited his career within the Republican Party, many in the media thought his appearances were more promotional than political, and that, in reality, the whole thing was a marketing ploy, a marketing idea, for The Apprentice.

[00:18:33] Indeed, there’s real speculation among journalists and historians that Trump’s presidential run in 2016 also began as an attention-seeking scheme to promote his struggling business ventures.

[00:18:47] As the former Fox News CEO and close friend of Trump, Roger Ailes, once said, "if you want a career in television, first run for president." 

[00:18:58] And many people believe that that’s exactly what Trump wanted to do: run for President, lose the election but receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free publicity, then launch a new news network or use the increased fame as a marketing technique for his businesses.

[00:19:17] Even a week before the election, reportedly, Trump and his team were sure he would lose.

[00:19:23] And he was OK with that.

[00:19:25] According to one journalist, Trump told Ailes that the campaign had been "bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don't think about losing, because it isn't losing. We've totally won."

[00:19:35] So, what happened when he actually won?

[00:19:40] Well, it was a shock, to say the least.

[00:19:43] Donald Trump Jr. is reported to have said that his father "looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears - and not tears of joy."

[00:19:53] After winning the most unlikely of political upsets, there were reports that Trump didn’t even want to live in the White House, and that he was unimpressed with the decor, and that he struggled to live without the maids and butlers that he had long enjoyed in his collection of private residences and hotels.

[00:20:11] So, how did Donald Trump, a supposedly successful businessman with a shady track record of investments and legal challenges, how did he win the presidency and become the most powerful man in the world?

[00:20:25] Well, clearly tens of thousands of hours of TV and millions of words have been written analysing how and why this happened.

[00:20:34] So I only want to make one point here, and it’s that the fact that he was the clear outsider, and that he wasn’t expected to win, meant that his campaign became relatively pressure-free.

[00:20:47] This allowed him to paint himself as a political underdog, someone thought to have little or no chance of winning anything.

[00:20:56] Portraying himself as an outsider against the establishment candidate and former First Lady Hilary Clinton, Trump was pretty much free to say and do whatever he liked.

[00:21:08] This was, as I’m sure you'll remember, often done in very provocative, offensive, and politically incorrect language.

[00:21:16] He bragged about his wealth, claiming it would free him from the influence of the big political donors that dominated Washington, and promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington DC. Desperate to be seen as rich and powerful, he talked endlessly about his business empire, his bank balance and even his golden toilet.

[00:21:38] This kind of braggadocious behaviour clearly resonated, and he portrayed himself as a tough self-made billionaire businessman who would be able to have the same success in government as he had had in the business world.

[00:21:53] So by a combination of luck, opportunism, and the unpopularity of his opponent, on November 9th of 2016, Donald Trump won the US presidential election in one of the greatest political upsets of all time.

[00:22:08] His decisions in office enraged many, delighted many others, and he tore up the rule book in anything and everything from climate change to trade and foreign policy.

[00:22:20] It made him the most famous and recognisable face in the world, and there wasn’t a day when he wasn’t all over cable news.

[00:22:29] Of course, The Trump Show might have quietened down, but it is far from the end of the series.

[00:22:36] There are rumours of another presidential run in 2024, when Donald Trump will be 78 years old.

[00:22:44] If this does happen, as Trump knows all too well, it will be “must watch TV”.

[00:22:51] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman with a questionable legal track record that went on to win the presidency and shift the direction of not only American but world history.

[00:23:07] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:11] Where does Trump rank among US presidents?

[00:23:14] Do you think he really wanted to become president?

[00:23:17] And have we seen the last of Donald Trump, or is this just the start?

[00:23:22] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:26] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:38] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about the life of Donald Trump.

[00:00:28] Now, no doubt you need no reminder of who Donald Trump is.

[00:00:32] His presidency was one of the most controversial in recent American political history, and impossible to ignore.

[00:00:41] We’re all well aware of his scandals: all the things he said and did - both true and ‘fake news’, as he would say.

[00:00:48] But we’re not here to talk about his presidency today. 

[00:00:52] We’re here to talk about his life before he became leader of the free world.

[00:00:57] We’ll take a look at his early life and the impact of his parents.

[00:01:01] His businesses, and many business failures.

[00:01:04] His scandals, and criminal investigations.

[00:01:07] And consider whether or not he really wanted to be president, or he simply became the most powerful man in the world… by accident.

[00:01:17] OK then, the life of Donald Trump. 

[00:01:22] On a June afternoon in 2015, a small crowd waited around in the basement of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper

[00:01:32] There was a small stage, and posters promising to ‘Make America Great Again’ on the walls.

[00:01:39] Then, suddenly, everyone turned and all eyes looked up towards a golden escalator.

[00:01:47] First, the shoes came into view. 

[00:01:49] Then the legs, the midsection, the tie, and, finally, a shock of poorly dyed blonde hair and a cheesy grin.

[00:01:59] The reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump was slowly descending the golden escalator, and he just announced his candidacy to be president of the United States.

[00:02:11] It was an escalator ride that altered American history forever.

[00:02:16] Almost exactly 69 years before this, a Scottish immigrant named Mary MacLeod gave birth to a boy. 

[00:02:24] His name was Donald John Trump, and he was born in New York on the 14th of June, 1946.

[00:02:33] His father, Fred Trump, was a brash, outspoken New York real estate developer.

[00:02:40] Fred and Donald were, you could say, a great example of the famous phrase: ‘Like father, like son.’

[00:02:47] Fred Trump had made his fortune building thousands of apartment units, mostly in Brooklyn, New York, for some of the city’s poorest people.

[00:02:57] But he didn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart, of course.

[00:03:01] Rather, Fred Trump took government money to build social housing, but didn’t quite tell the real truth about how much the construction, the building would cost, meaning he would charge the government more and put the difference in his pocket.

[00:03:18] While clearly, as a businessman, he was allowed to make a profit, his business practices raised eyebrows so much that he was investigated in 1954 by the Senate Banking Committee for overestimating the costs of his construction projects and keeping the difference for himself.

[00:03:37] But that’s just the start.

[00:03:39] Fred Trump was not only a man of questionable, shady business practices, like his son would be accused of being, but there is also substantial evidence to suggest that he would discriminate against his tenants based on the colour of their skin.

[00:03:57] Specifically, African American tenants weren’t treated well by Fred Trump.

[00:04:03] In 1967 after black tenants were repeatedly rejected for apartment applications, an investigation concluded that of the almost 4000 apartments in Trump Village, one of Fred’s many housing complexes, just seven were occupied by African-American families.

[00:04:24] Now, Donald Trump might have got the taste for business, and perhaps slightly questionable business practices, from his father, but there were plenty of maternal influences too, influences from his mother.

[00:04:39] Specifically, for his style and his trademark hair, he has his mother to thank.

[00:04:45] She also had a love for eccentric hairstyles, and for many years Mary, his mother, sported a dramatic orange swirl reminiscent of her son’s infamous hairdo.

[00:04:58] She often wore fur coats and extravagant jewellery, and Donald Trump has frequently acknowledged his mother’s influence on his personality.

[00:05:08] In his 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’ he wrote: “Looking back, I realise now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother.”

[00:05:20] Mary’s sense of showmanship would take her son onto every TV screen in America, and then into the White House.

[00:05:28] Anyway, back to young Donald’s early life.

[00:05:32] After attending a private boarding school, Trump initially studied at Fordham University in the Bronx but in 1966 he went on to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

[00:05:46] During his studies he managed to avoid being ‘drafted’ into the Army to fight in the Vietnam war.

[00:05:53] But in 1968, by the time he had finished his studies, Trump was initially declared eligible to fight but, as you may know, he was given another medical deferral - for bone spurs, basically hard bumps that develop on the end of bones. 

[00:06:13] This was essentially a doctor’s letter saying “don’t send him to Vietnam, he isn’t healthy enough”. So, he never went.

[00:06:22] Now, there has been plenty of controversy about this, and it has since been suggested that the doctor who diagnosed his bone spurs was a tenant in a Trump building and did Fred, Donald's father, a favour. 

[00:06:37] Upon his graduation, and safe from the battlefield, Donald began working with his father and soon got into the spirit of the family business.

[00:06:46] By 1971, at the age of just 25, he was made President. 

[00:06:53] Not President of the United States, of course, that would have to wait. President of his father’s real estate business.

[00:07:00] It seems that the young Donald was quite happy to go along with his father’s questionable business practices, and his career would be plagued, filled, with legal difficulties and accusations of wrongdoing.

[00:07:15] In 1973 Fred and Donald, along with their company, then called Trump Management, were sued by the U.S. Justice Department for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act for alleged racial discrimination at their apartment buildings in New York City.

[00:07:34] Both Fred, who was Chairman, and Donald, the company president, were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

[00:07:41] It might not have been for a great reason, but this was Donald’s first time in the national spotlight, and he certainly made the most of it.

[00:07:51] In response, the Trumps decided to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million, but the matter was eventually settled out of court in an arrangement that meant they didn’t have to admit any guilt, any wrongdoing.

[00:08:09] In the late 1970’s and 1980’s Donald began to go upmarket, and move the family business from affordable housing into luxury hotels and casinos. 

[00:08:22] To do this, however, he needed two things.

[00:08:26] Money, and lots of it. 

[00:08:28] And political connections to get purchases and planning permission approved.

[00:08:34] Fred Trump, his father, had both.

[00:08:37] And it’s here, really, that the career of Donald Trump took off.

[00:08:41] It all started, in Trump’s own words, with a ‘small loan of one million dollars’ from his father. 

[00:08:48] Now, 1 million dollars in the early 1970s is about 7 million dollars now, it’s not everyone’s definition of a “small loan”. 

[00:08:58] And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump was actually loaned a lot more than he first claimed.

[00:09:06] With this money, he continued buying up properties, and in 1983 opened the famous Trump Tower, an office, retail, and housing complex that would become the headquarters of the Trump Organization - and where he famously announced his candidacy for president after descending the golden escalator in 2015.

[00:09:28] From here, the developments continued to grow, and of course the Trump name was plastered all over every new building. 

[00:09:37] Using loans and political favours, he bought and developed Trump Plaza in 1984, and the 19-story Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $400 million.

[00:09:50] In 1985 he bought the famous Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in Florida, the estate that he would later refer to as the Winter White House, an estate where it turned out he had been keeping classified materials after handing over the presidency.

[00:10:06] On top of this there were casinos in Atlantic City, an airline, and a smorgasbord of interlinked business ventures. All, of 

[00:10:15] course, named Trump something or other.

[00:10:19] But much like the fortunes of politicians, the world of business is often unpredictable and success can ‘ebb and flow’ with the economy.

[00:10:29] ‘Ebb and flow’, by the way, basically means something that goes up or down or varies.

[00:10:35] Well, when economies across the Western world started to fall into recession in the early 1990s, the many Trump Organization businesses also began to suffer.

[00:10:46] Trump struggled to keep up with his debt payments, the money he owed, which is believed to have gone into the billions; although, as we know from his time in the White House, he likes to keep his financial records close to his chest, or top secret.

[00:11:03] After trying to restructure some of his businesses, Trump was forced to give up his airline and sell his superyacht called the ‘Trump Princess’, he was forced to take out new mortgages on all of his businesses, and limit himself to a personal budget.

[00:11:20] But the financial difficulties continued to grow.

[00:11:23] Trump Taj Mahal casino was called into bankruptcy court in 1991 - it was $3 billion in debt just one year after opening its doors - and two of his other casinos, as well as his Plaza Hotel in New York City, also went bankrupt in 1992. 

[00:11:42] Things got so bad in the 1990’s that Trump almost went personally bankrupt, and in 1992, with banks threatening to foreclose on the huge loans they had given him, Trump agreed to turn over many of his remaining assets.

[00:11:59] From that moment on, most major banks were sceptical about doing business with the self-styled “very stable genius”, and the Trump brand moved mostly into entertainment ventures.

[00:12:12] As always, Trump’s true business value was unclear: estimates of his net worth during this rocky period in the 1990’s varied from the billions to the negative millions.

[00:12:26] Our next stop is a place where you might have first become aware of Donald Trump: on a TV screen.

[00:12:34] Despite all the business successes and failures, and being relatively well known in New York social circles, nothing made Trump more famous or set him on the road to the White House] more than the reality TV show, The Apprentice.

[00:12:50] Not only could he present himself as a highly successful businessman on TV screens across America - never mentioning all the legal cases and bankruptcies, of course - he also made quite a lot of money from the show.

[00:13:03] It is believed that Trump made around $200 million from The Apprentice.

[00:13:08] But to someone who would claim to be a billionaire, and someone who clearly had a keen understanding of the value of a brand, The Apprentice gave him something much more valuable. 

[00:13:20] It positioned him in the minds of the American public as a “self-made billionaire”.

[00:13:27] And for a nation with an almost religious infatuation with businessmen and making money, this was priceless.

[00:13:36] The 2008 relaunch of the show, The Celebrity Apprentice, brought him into celebrity circles, confirmed his position as a household name in American TV society, and his well known signature catch phrase - ‘you’re fired’ - gave him authority in the minds of the American public.

[00:13:55] America had seen him in a carefully controlled business situation on The Apprentice looking decisive and authoritative. 

[00:14:03] This seed that he planted in the 2000s would come in useful later on.

[00:14:09] But if we put aside the self-made billionaire TV persona for a moment, Trump certainly had some very big business failures over the years, including, but not limited to, Trump Steaks; a Trump Ice bottled water brand; Trump Vodka; and, of course, the prestigious Trump University.

[00:14:30] Trump University, or, The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, as it became known when authorities declared it misleading and possibly illegal to describe as a university, was an educational service that offered classes in real-estate investment and entrepreneurialism, and the chance to learn from the great real estate mogul himself.

[00:14:51] For the small price of up to $50,000 you too could learn how to become a real estate billionaire, just like Donald Trump.

[00:15:01] It sounded too good to be true. You´d only needed to pay $50,000 but you’d learn the secrets to become a billionaire?

[00:15:09] It turned out that it might just have been too good to be true. 

[00:15:13] In 2011 Trump University was investigated by the New York Attorney General, and in August of 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil lawsuit alleging that the business had lied to and defrauded its students.

[00:15:32] After denying the allegations for a few years, Trump eventually settled the lawsuits for $25 million in November 2016, after he had been elected president.

[00:15:46] So, how exactly did Donald go from TV star to president of the free world?

[00:15:53] Was the White House always part of his plan, or was it an elaborate marketing strategy that ‘got out of hand’?

[00:16:00] Was he a committed politician, or a shameless opportunist? 

[00:16:04] Well, despite what Trump might have said on the campaign trail back in 2016, it's believed that he first considered a presidential run, as a Republican, as far back as 1988.

[00:16:18] He was never quite the anti-establishment, political outsider he makes himself out to be, and had been involved with politics, on some level, for most of his life.

[00:16:30] In 2000 he was a presidential candidate for the third-party Reform party but he withdrew after winning two primaries.

[00:16:39] He then unofficially campaigned for a while in 2012, and reportedly also considered a run in 2014.

[00:16:48] It's safe to say that Trump had flirted with the idea for many years, but had no strong political ideology or values guiding him and wasn’t really interested in things that he couldn’t win or profit from.

[00:17:03] Although he was a Republican president and is now considered anything from moderately to extremely right-wing, Trump’s political donations over the years make for very interesting reading. 

[00:17:16] Specifically, until 2010, he had donated more to the Democrats than he had to the Republican party.

[00:17:25] And his official party affiliation has also changed over the years. 

[00:17:30] He initially registered as a Republican back in 1987, switched to the Reform Party for that brief presidential run in 2000, was a Democrat between 2001 and 2009, and then finally switched back to the Republicans in 2009.

[00:17:49] In fact, and you might find this very surprising, in 2008 he actually endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, but then supported the Republican John McCain for president.

[00:18:04] So, back to his path to the presidency.

[00:18:07] In February 2011 Trump appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and although his speech there is believed by some to have ignited his career within the Republican Party, many in the media thought his appearances were more promotional than political, and that, in reality, the whole thing was a marketing ploy, a marketing idea, for The Apprentice.

[00:18:33] Indeed, there’s real speculation among journalists and historians that Trump’s presidential run in 2016 also began as an attention-seeking scheme to promote his struggling business ventures.

[00:18:47] As the former Fox News CEO and close friend of Trump, Roger Ailes, once said, "if you want a career in television, first run for president." 

[00:18:58] And many people believe that that’s exactly what Trump wanted to do: run for President, lose the election but receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free publicity, then launch a new news network or use the increased fame as a marketing technique for his businesses.

[00:19:17] Even a week before the election, reportedly, Trump and his team were sure he would lose.

[00:19:23] And he was OK with that.

[00:19:25] According to one journalist, Trump told Ailes that the campaign had been "bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don't think about losing, because it isn't losing. We've totally won."

[00:19:35] So, what happened when he actually won?

[00:19:40] Well, it was a shock, to say the least.

[00:19:43] Donald Trump Jr. is reported to have said that his father "looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears - and not tears of joy."

[00:19:53] After winning the most unlikely of political upsets, there were reports that Trump didn’t even want to live in the White House, and that he was unimpressed with the decor, and that he struggled to live without the maids and butlers that he had long enjoyed in his collection of private residences and hotels.

[00:20:11] So, how did Donald Trump, a supposedly successful businessman with a shady track record of investments and legal challenges, how did he win the presidency and become the most powerful man in the world?

[00:20:25] Well, clearly tens of thousands of hours of TV and millions of words have been written analysing how and why this happened.

[00:20:34] So I only want to make one point here, and it’s that the fact that he was the clear outsider, and that he wasn’t expected to win, meant that his campaign became relatively pressure-free.

[00:20:47] This allowed him to paint himself as a political underdog, someone thought to have little or no chance of winning anything.

[00:20:56] Portraying himself as an outsider against the establishment candidate and former First Lady Hilary Clinton, Trump was pretty much free to say and do whatever he liked.

[00:21:08] This was, as I’m sure you'll remember, often done in very provocative, offensive, and politically incorrect language.

[00:21:16] He bragged about his wealth, claiming it would free him from the influence of the big political donors that dominated Washington, and promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington DC. Desperate to be seen as rich and powerful, he talked endlessly about his business empire, his bank balance and even his golden toilet.

[00:21:38] This kind of braggadocious behaviour clearly resonated, and he portrayed himself as a tough self-made billionaire businessman who would be able to have the same success in government as he had had in the business world.

[00:21:53] So by a combination of luck, opportunism, and the unpopularity of his opponent, on November 9th of 2016, Donald Trump won the US presidential election in one of the greatest political upsets of all time.

[00:22:08] His decisions in office enraged many, delighted many others, and he tore up the rule book in anything and everything from climate change to trade and foreign policy.

[00:22:20] It made him the most famous and recognisable face in the world, and there wasn’t a day when he wasn’t all over cable news.

[00:22:29] Of course, The Trump Show might have quietened down, but it is far from the end of the series.

[00:22:36] There are rumours of another presidential run in 2024, when Donald Trump will be 78 years old.

[00:22:44] If this does happen, as Trump knows all too well, it will be “must watch TV”.

[00:22:51] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman with a questionable legal track record that went on to win the presidency and shift the direction of not only American but world history.

[00:23:07] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:11] Where does Trump rank among US presidents?

[00:23:14] Do you think he really wanted to become president?

[00:23:17] And have we seen the last of Donald Trump, or is this just the start?

[00:23:22] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:26] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:38] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about the life of Donald Trump.

[00:00:28] Now, no doubt you need no reminder of who Donald Trump is.

[00:00:32] His presidency was one of the most controversial in recent American political history, and impossible to ignore.

[00:00:41] We’re all well aware of his scandals: all the things he said and did - both true and ‘fake news’, as he would say.

[00:00:48] But we’re not here to talk about his presidency today. 

[00:00:52] We’re here to talk about his life before he became leader of the free world.

[00:00:57] We’ll take a look at his early life and the impact of his parents.

[00:01:01] His businesses, and many business failures.

[00:01:04] His scandals, and criminal investigations.

[00:01:07] And consider whether or not he really wanted to be president, or he simply became the most powerful man in the world… by accident.

[00:01:17] OK then, the life of Donald Trump. 

[00:01:22] On a June afternoon in 2015, a small crowd waited around in the basement of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper

[00:01:32] There was a small stage, and posters promising to ‘Make America Great Again’ on the walls.

[00:01:39] Then, suddenly, everyone turned and all eyes looked up towards a golden escalator.

[00:01:47] First, the shoes came into view. 

[00:01:49] Then the legs, the midsection, the tie, and, finally, a shock of poorly dyed blonde hair and a cheesy grin.

[00:01:59] The reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump was slowly descending the golden escalator, and he just announced his candidacy to be president of the United States.

[00:02:11] It was an escalator ride that altered American history forever.

[00:02:16] Almost exactly 69 years before this, a Scottish immigrant named Mary MacLeod gave birth to a boy. 

[00:02:24] His name was Donald John Trump, and he was born in New York on the 14th of June, 1946.

[00:02:33] His father, Fred Trump, was a brash, outspoken New York real estate developer.

[00:02:40] Fred and Donald were, you could say, a great example of the famous phrase: ‘Like father, like son.’

[00:02:47] Fred Trump had made his fortune building thousands of apartment units, mostly in Brooklyn, New York, for some of the city’s poorest people.

[00:02:57] But he didn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart, of course.

[00:03:01] Rather, Fred Trump took government money to build social housing, but didn’t quite tell the real truth about how much the construction, the building would cost, meaning he would charge the government more and put the difference in his pocket.

[00:03:18] While clearly, as a businessman, he was allowed to make a profit, his business practices raised eyebrows so much that he was investigated in 1954 by the Senate Banking Committee for overestimating the costs of his construction projects and keeping the difference for himself.

[00:03:37] But that’s just the start.

[00:03:39] Fred Trump was not only a man of questionable, shady business practices, like his son would be accused of being, but there is also substantial evidence to suggest that he would discriminate against his tenants based on the colour of their skin.

[00:03:57] Specifically, African American tenants weren’t treated well by Fred Trump.

[00:04:03] In 1967 after black tenants were repeatedly rejected for apartment applications, an investigation concluded that of the almost 4000 apartments in Trump Village, one of Fred’s many housing complexes, just seven were occupied by African-American families.

[00:04:24] Now, Donald Trump might have got the taste for business, and perhaps slightly questionable business practices, from his father, but there were plenty of maternal influences too, influences from his mother.

[00:04:39] Specifically, for his style and his trademark hair, he has his mother to thank.

[00:04:45] She also had a love for eccentric hairstyles, and for many years Mary, his mother, sported a dramatic orange swirl reminiscent of her son’s infamous hairdo.

[00:04:58] She often wore fur coats and extravagant jewellery, and Donald Trump has frequently acknowledged his mother’s influence on his personality.

[00:05:08] In his 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’ he wrote: “Looking back, I realise now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother.”

[00:05:20] Mary’s sense of showmanship would take her son onto every TV screen in America, and then into the White House.

[00:05:28] Anyway, back to young Donald’s early life.

[00:05:32] After attending a private boarding school, Trump initially studied at Fordham University in the Bronx but in 1966 he went on to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

[00:05:46] During his studies he managed to avoid being ‘drafted’ into the Army to fight in the Vietnam war.

[00:05:53] But in 1968, by the time he had finished his studies, Trump was initially declared eligible to fight but, as you may know, he was given another medical deferral - for bone spurs, basically hard bumps that develop on the end of bones. 

[00:06:13] This was essentially a doctor’s letter saying “don’t send him to Vietnam, he isn’t healthy enough”. So, he never went.

[00:06:22] Now, there has been plenty of controversy about this, and it has since been suggested that the doctor who diagnosed his bone spurs was a tenant in a Trump building and did Fred, Donald's father, a favour. 

[00:06:37] Upon his graduation, and safe from the battlefield, Donald began working with his father and soon got into the spirit of the family business.

[00:06:46] By 1971, at the age of just 25, he was made President. 

[00:06:53] Not President of the United States, of course, that would have to wait. President of his father’s real estate business.

[00:07:00] It seems that the young Donald was quite happy to go along with his father’s questionable business practices, and his career would be plagued, filled, with legal difficulties and accusations of wrongdoing.

[00:07:15] In 1973 Fred and Donald, along with their company, then called Trump Management, were sued by the U.S. Justice Department for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act for alleged racial discrimination at their apartment buildings in New York City.

[00:07:34] Both Fred, who was Chairman, and Donald, the company president, were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

[00:07:41] It might not have been for a great reason, but this was Donald’s first time in the national spotlight, and he certainly made the most of it.

[00:07:51] In response, the Trumps decided to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million, but the matter was eventually settled out of court in an arrangement that meant they didn’t have to admit any guilt, any wrongdoing.

[00:08:09] In the late 1970’s and 1980’s Donald began to go upmarket, and move the family business from affordable housing into luxury hotels and casinos. 

[00:08:22] To do this, however, he needed two things.

[00:08:26] Money, and lots of it. 

[00:08:28] And political connections to get purchases and planning permission approved.

[00:08:34] Fred Trump, his father, had both.

[00:08:37] And it’s here, really, that the career of Donald Trump took off.

[00:08:41] It all started, in Trump’s own words, with a ‘small loan of one million dollars’ from his father. 

[00:08:48] Now, 1 million dollars in the early 1970s is about 7 million dollars now, it’s not everyone’s definition of a “small loan”. 

[00:08:58] And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump was actually loaned a lot more than he first claimed.

[00:09:06] With this money, he continued buying up properties, and in 1983 opened the famous Trump Tower, an office, retail, and housing complex that would become the headquarters of the Trump Organization - and where he famously announced his candidacy for president after descending the golden escalator in 2015.

[00:09:28] From here, the developments continued to grow, and of course the Trump name was plastered all over every new building. 

[00:09:37] Using loans and political favours, he bought and developed Trump Plaza in 1984, and the 19-story Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $400 million.

[00:09:50] In 1985 he bought the famous Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in Florida, the estate that he would later refer to as the Winter White House, an estate where it turned out he had been keeping classified materials after handing over the presidency.

[00:10:06] On top of this there were casinos in Atlantic City, an airline, and a smorgasbord of interlinked business ventures. All, of 

[00:10:15] course, named Trump something or other.

[00:10:19] But much like the fortunes of politicians, the world of business is often unpredictable and success can ‘ebb and flow’ with the economy.

[00:10:29] ‘Ebb and flow’, by the way, basically means something that goes up or down or varies.

[00:10:35] Well, when economies across the Western world started to fall into recession in the early 1990s, the many Trump Organization businesses also began to suffer.

[00:10:46] Trump struggled to keep up with his debt payments, the money he owed, which is believed to have gone into the billions; although, as we know from his time in the White House, he likes to keep his financial records close to his chest, or top secret.

[00:11:03] After trying to restructure some of his businesses, Trump was forced to give up his airline and sell his superyacht called the ‘Trump Princess’, he was forced to take out new mortgages on all of his businesses, and limit himself to a personal budget.

[00:11:20] But the financial difficulties continued to grow.

[00:11:23] Trump Taj Mahal casino was called into bankruptcy court in 1991 - it was $3 billion in debt just one year after opening its doors - and two of his other casinos, as well as his Plaza Hotel in New York City, also went bankrupt in 1992. 

[00:11:42] Things got so bad in the 1990’s that Trump almost went personally bankrupt, and in 1992, with banks threatening to foreclose on the huge loans they had given him, Trump agreed to turn over many of his remaining assets.

[00:11:59] From that moment on, most major banks were sceptical about doing business with the self-styled “very stable genius”, and the Trump brand moved mostly into entertainment ventures.

[00:12:12] As always, Trump’s true business value was unclear: estimates of his net worth during this rocky period in the 1990’s varied from the billions to the negative millions.

[00:12:26] Our next stop is a place where you might have first become aware of Donald Trump: on a TV screen.

[00:12:34] Despite all the business successes and failures, and being relatively well known in New York social circles, nothing made Trump more famous or set him on the road to the White House] more than the reality TV show, The Apprentice.

[00:12:50] Not only could he present himself as a highly successful businessman on TV screens across America - never mentioning all the legal cases and bankruptcies, of course - he also made quite a lot of money from the show.

[00:13:03] It is believed that Trump made around $200 million from The Apprentice.

[00:13:08] But to someone who would claim to be a billionaire, and someone who clearly had a keen understanding of the value of a brand, The Apprentice gave him something much more valuable. 

[00:13:20] It positioned him in the minds of the American public as a “self-made billionaire”.

[00:13:27] And for a nation with an almost religious infatuation with businessmen and making money, this was priceless.

[00:13:36] The 2008 relaunch of the show, The Celebrity Apprentice, brought him into celebrity circles, confirmed his position as a household name in American TV society, and his well known signature catch phrase - ‘you’re fired’ - gave him authority in the minds of the American public.

[00:13:55] America had seen him in a carefully controlled business situation on The Apprentice looking decisive and authoritative. 

[00:14:03] This seed that he planted in the 2000s would come in useful later on.

[00:14:09] But if we put aside the self-made billionaire TV persona for a moment, Trump certainly had some very big business failures over the years, including, but not limited to, Trump Steaks; a Trump Ice bottled water brand; Trump Vodka; and, of course, the prestigious Trump University.

[00:14:30] Trump University, or, The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, as it became known when authorities declared it misleading and possibly illegal to describe as a university, was an educational service that offered classes in real-estate investment and entrepreneurialism, and the chance to learn from the great real estate mogul himself.

[00:14:51] For the small price of up to $50,000 you too could learn how to become a real estate billionaire, just like Donald Trump.

[00:15:01] It sounded too good to be true. You´d only needed to pay $50,000 but you’d learn the secrets to become a billionaire?

[00:15:09] It turned out that it might just have been too good to be true. 

[00:15:13] In 2011 Trump University was investigated by the New York Attorney General, and in August of 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil lawsuit alleging that the business had lied to and defrauded its students.

[00:15:32] After denying the allegations for a few years, Trump eventually settled the lawsuits for $25 million in November 2016, after he had been elected president.

[00:15:46] So, how exactly did Donald go from TV star to president of the free world?

[00:15:53] Was the White House always part of his plan, or was it an elaborate marketing strategy that ‘got out of hand’?

[00:16:00] Was he a committed politician, or a shameless opportunist? 

[00:16:04] Well, despite what Trump might have said on the campaign trail back in 2016, it's believed that he first considered a presidential run, as a Republican, as far back as 1988.

[00:16:18] He was never quite the anti-establishment, political outsider he makes himself out to be, and had been involved with politics, on some level, for most of his life.

[00:16:30] In 2000 he was a presidential candidate for the third-party Reform party but he withdrew after winning two primaries.

[00:16:39] He then unofficially campaigned for a while in 2012, and reportedly also considered a run in 2014.

[00:16:48] It's safe to say that Trump had flirted with the idea for many years, but had no strong political ideology or values guiding him and wasn’t really interested in things that he couldn’t win or profit from.

[00:17:03] Although he was a Republican president and is now considered anything from moderately to extremely right-wing, Trump’s political donations over the years make for very interesting reading. 

[00:17:16] Specifically, until 2010, he had donated more to the Democrats than he had to the Republican party.

[00:17:25] And his official party affiliation has also changed over the years. 

[00:17:30] He initially registered as a Republican back in 1987, switched to the Reform Party for that brief presidential run in 2000, was a Democrat between 2001 and 2009, and then finally switched back to the Republicans in 2009.

[00:17:49] In fact, and you might find this very surprising, in 2008 he actually endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, but then supported the Republican John McCain for president.

[00:18:04] So, back to his path to the presidency.

[00:18:07] In February 2011 Trump appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and although his speech there is believed by some to have ignited his career within the Republican Party, many in the media thought his appearances were more promotional than political, and that, in reality, the whole thing was a marketing ploy, a marketing idea, for The Apprentice.

[00:18:33] Indeed, there’s real speculation among journalists and historians that Trump’s presidential run in 2016 also began as an attention-seeking scheme to promote his struggling business ventures.

[00:18:47] As the former Fox News CEO and close friend of Trump, Roger Ailes, once said, "if you want a career in television, first run for president." 

[00:18:58] And many people believe that that’s exactly what Trump wanted to do: run for President, lose the election but receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free publicity, then launch a new news network or use the increased fame as a marketing technique for his businesses.

[00:19:17] Even a week before the election, reportedly, Trump and his team were sure he would lose.

[00:19:23] And he was OK with that.

[00:19:25] According to one journalist, Trump told Ailes that the campaign had been "bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don't think about losing, because it isn't losing. We've totally won."

[00:19:35] So, what happened when he actually won?

[00:19:40] Well, it was a shock, to say the least.

[00:19:43] Donald Trump Jr. is reported to have said that his father "looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears - and not tears of joy."

[00:19:53] After winning the most unlikely of political upsets, there were reports that Trump didn’t even want to live in the White House, and that he was unimpressed with the decor, and that he struggled to live without the maids and butlers that he had long enjoyed in his collection of private residences and hotels.

[00:20:11] So, how did Donald Trump, a supposedly successful businessman with a shady track record of investments and legal challenges, how did he win the presidency and become the most powerful man in the world?

[00:20:25] Well, clearly tens of thousands of hours of TV and millions of words have been written analysing how and why this happened.

[00:20:34] So I only want to make one point here, and it’s that the fact that he was the clear outsider, and that he wasn’t expected to win, meant that his campaign became relatively pressure-free.

[00:20:47] This allowed him to paint himself as a political underdog, someone thought to have little or no chance of winning anything.

[00:20:56] Portraying himself as an outsider against the establishment candidate and former First Lady Hilary Clinton, Trump was pretty much free to say and do whatever he liked.

[00:21:08] This was, as I’m sure you'll remember, often done in very provocative, offensive, and politically incorrect language.

[00:21:16] He bragged about his wealth, claiming it would free him from the influence of the big political donors that dominated Washington, and promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington DC. Desperate to be seen as rich and powerful, he talked endlessly about his business empire, his bank balance and even his golden toilet.

[00:21:38] This kind of braggadocious behaviour clearly resonated, and he portrayed himself as a tough self-made billionaire businessman who would be able to have the same success in government as he had had in the business world.

[00:21:53] So by a combination of luck, opportunism, and the unpopularity of his opponent, on November 9th of 2016, Donald Trump won the US presidential election in one of the greatest political upsets of all time.

[00:22:08] His decisions in office enraged many, delighted many others, and he tore up the rule book in anything and everything from climate change to trade and foreign policy.

[00:22:20] It made him the most famous and recognisable face in the world, and there wasn’t a day when he wasn’t all over cable news.

[00:22:29] Of course, The Trump Show might have quietened down, but it is far from the end of the series.

[00:22:36] There are rumours of another presidential run in 2024, when Donald Trump will be 78 years old.

[00:22:44] If this does happen, as Trump knows all too well, it will be “must watch TV”.

[00:22:51] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman with a questionable legal track record that went on to win the presidency and shift the direction of not only American but world history.

[00:23:07] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:11] Where does Trump rank among US presidents?

[00:23:14] Do you think he really wanted to become president?

[00:23:17] And have we seen the last of Donald Trump, or is this just the start?

[00:23:22] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:26] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:38] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]