Donald Trump could well be the most famous boss in the world. Not only does he employ thousands, but he also fires hundreds and hires a handful on national television. Each week on NBC's 'The Apprentice,' be it staffed with celebrities or regular folk, he doles out employment information that is heard and heeded by millions.
And he had to work his way to the top. Just because Trump's father was a New Yorkdeveloper doesn't mean he reached his current position in life and business by nepotism. He was the fourth of five children, and paid his dues by graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, then gradually ascended from the basement of his father's business before branching out and starting his own.
Regardless of the privilege and power he can bestow on his progeny, Trump insists that his children get degrees as well, and earn his respect, as well as the respect of world business leaders. He does not cavalierly hand out positions in the empire he's worked so diligently to create.
Recently, "The Donald" descended from his throne atop real estate, hospitality, media and retail empires to chat with AOL Jobs about the secrets of his success, and to share tips on how us little people can hear those golden words: "You're hired!"
Q. How did you get started?
A. I worked with my father, Fred C. Trump, who was a real estate developer in the suburbs of Manhattan. I learned about the business from an early age and continued working with him for a while after graduating college and before starting out on my own in Manhattan.
Q. To what do you attribute your success?
A. I had a great mentor and example: my father. I learned a great deal from him and I watched him work for many years. I also loved what I was doing. I had a passion for real estate, and I believe that is the most important thing. You have to love what you're doing.
Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning?
A. The importance of focus. When I had a financial turnaround in the early '90s, I realized I had lost my focus. (Editor's note: 1989-1997 were tough years for Trump. Atlantic City Casino, the Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza Hotel and the Trump Shuttle all failed in one way or another. Trump filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and at one time was in debt to the tune of $3.5 billion. It took amazingly savvy negotiating, and a giant helping of faith and trust in him by his creditors, for him to rebound.)
Q. What was one of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in your career and how did you handle it?
A. When I had troubles in the '90s, I decided to deal with the situation by seeing it as a blip and not a catastrophe. I also focused on the solution, and not the problem. I refused to give in to difficult circumstances.
Q. Describe your ideal employee.
A. Someone who is focused, loyal, dedicated, passionate and intelligent -- meaning they can think on their own as well as be a team player.
Q. What employee traits or behaviors are most annoying to you?
A. Disloyalty and tardiness, and not doing their best every day.
Q. Give us some quick tips on how someone can stand out in the job market.
- Know what you're doing and what you want, and make it clear.
- Be enthusiastic. Prove that you're the right person by being passionate about the position and/or industry.
- Exude confidence. If you know what you're doing, that should be easy.
- Don't brag too much. It can be taken the wrong way. Being confident doesn't have to include too many of your greatest accomplishments.
Q. How about some tips for getting noticed by the boss?
- Do a great job.
- Do a great job every day.
- Be plugged into the organization as a whole -- not just your own position. Have a comprehensive overview and keep it updated.
- Be passionate about your work. Never let it become just a job.
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