- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Donald’s latest

Donald Trump is using his assistant-grooming reality show to sell units in his second Las Vegas condominium tower.

For a one-hour episode of “The Apprentice” scheduled to air Sunday, contestants were tasked with devising a marketing plan for Trump Tower II, which like its predecessor will be 64 stories of gold glass just off the Las Vegas Strip, developers said.

The challenge is formidable. Las Vegas’ once-hot condo market has cooled in the past year, leaving dozens of projects stalled in blueprint stages and many condo buyers wanting out.

Mr. Trump’s Las Vegas projects are partnerships with casino owner Philip Ruffin, owner of the New Frontier hotel-casino next door.

Both towers include about 1,300 luxury condominium units, with a hotel rental option, at prices ranging from $700,000 to $7 million.

Tower I is expected to cost $600 million and be completed in early 2008. Tower II, targeted for completion two years later, is estimated to cost $700 million. Gross sales on the towers are projected to reach $2.5 billion, making it Mr. Trump’s largest project to date.

Regardless of the plans contestants devise, “The Apprentice” episode is itself a shrewd piece of marketing, said Jack Wishna, a dealmaker involved in the project. “It probably would cost us $60 million if we were to advertise for a full hour on prime-time TV.”

Rift over wedding

The Indian father-in-law of British actress Elizabeth Hurley said in an interview yesterday that he had cut ties with his son, Arun Nayer, because of anger over their lavish wedding.

Vinod Nayer told the Sunday Mirror from Bombay that he and his wife, Joanne, felt “publicly humiliated” and treated “like social outcasts” at the event, which took place in Britain and India last month.

“My heart is heavy with pain,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Mr. Nayer senior, a textile magnate, claims that the couple seemed disrespectful of Indian relatives and did not act with consideration toward him and his wife.

“We were pushed into the background like poor relations. This has broken my heart,” the 66-year-old added.

Guests at the wedding celebrations included singer Elton John and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

“I have decided to cut all ties with my son. I feel that Liz and Arun behaved shamefully and placed more importance on showing off than their own family,” Mr. Nayer senior added.

He said that he had not spoken to his son since the wedding and had sent him a letter accusing him of having “disregarded me like one of your office boys.”

“You have shown disrespect to me and my family, plus my dear friends who have been with me since your birth,” the letter reportedly said.

Next best-seller?

“The Prince of Tides” author Pat Conroy says he’s finishing his first novel in more than a decade, and it will mark a return to the same dysfunctional characters for which he’s known.

Mr. Conroy’s last book was a cookbook published in 2004.

“I loved writing that book. … Now, of course, everybody in this new book is dying and driving themselves off cliffs,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So I’m back to normal.”

The new novel is set in Charleston, S.C., and is already nearly 700 pages, Mr. Conroy said. “It drives me nuts. But long-windedness … there’s nothing you can do about it. I wanted to write a 250-page novel, but I realize I can’t even write a prologue that’s 250 pages.”

Mr. Conroy, 62, said his wife Cassandra King, author of “Queen of Broken Hearts,” is a much happier writer.

“I’ll hear her cackle with laughter at some funny line she’s written,” he said. “I’ve never cackled with laughter at a single line I’ve ever written. None of it has given me pleasure. She writes with pleasure and joy, and I sit there in gloom and darkness.”

Mr. Conroy has not published a novel since 1995’s “Beach Music.” He spoke to the newspaper to promote a fundraising appearance he’s making for a library foundation.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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