Donald Trump — billionaire developer, host of NBC’s long-running reality competition series “The Apprentice” and American icon — was interviewed by phone on Nov. 3 by American CurrentSee executive editor Armstrong Williams.
Armstrong Williams: Donald Trump thank you so much for joining us. What would the world be like today if America did not exist?
Donald Trump: Well, it would be worse, and the world is both a beautiful place and a place that obviously has quite a bit of evil when you look at what’s going on, but it would certainly be not as good as it is today.
In what particular area — in terms of our military, in terms of our technology, in terms of our philanthropy, in terms of our entrepreneurship?
I think in terms of entrepreneurship, we’ve certainly led the way. In terms of military, there is no power like the United States, but of course that’s always subject to change, and in so many different ways there are great things that we can point to that really have benefitted the world. And, obviously, at the same time a lot of people are not exactly big fans of the United States right now.
If we continue to have elections and people continue to go out and vote and yet their lives never change, especially for those in the middle class and the lower class, is it any surprise people don’t show up in the midterm elections to cast their votes?
You can see that very easily, and that’s why people are fed up. Their incomes continue to decline, and they continue to be in more and more trouble in more and more ways — especially financially. That’s why you have low voter turnout, period — not just in the midterm elections but generally speaking. Only a very small percentage of our society is voting.
What prescription would you give to assure that Americans would vote, to turn out more enthusiastically?
Leadership. If they saw real leadership, they would turn out to vote.
Is there anyone you could point to that has that kind of leadership?
Most recently, Ronald Reagan was a great leader. He was somebody that was respected by both sides, and he was a person that people felt very strongly about, but we don’t seem to have that right now.
Recently, ISIS boasted that they killed over 200 hundred people — children, women, men, all innocent people. What does it say about the world that it allows an organization to exist that can just kill people at random?
It says what a vicious world it can be, and that’s certainly a good example of it.
Do you think the United States should do more?
The United States is going to have to do something very substantial, or get out of the game and go another route. But if the United States doesn’t do something very substantial, this horror show will go unchecked, and that would be a very bad thing.
If you were president, what would you do?
I would be a leader, and I would figure it out.
How do we return vitality, confidence and self-esteem to the inner cities of America? How do we return the grocery stores, the dry cleaners, the different shops where people can find employment, where they can see role models, where the community is thriving? How do we get back to that?
Well, the thing you mentioned is role models, and in the world and this country in particular there aren’t too many role models anymore. People want to see this country return to many of the great traits, and obviously there were problems in the past, but, likewise, there were great traits in the past. You look at what’s going on in the country now with unemployment at a tremendous high — even though the numbers don’t show that, the actual numbers are, because if you are looking for a job and you stop looking because you can’t find one, they consider you employed essentially. So the real numbers are staggering, family income is going down, so many problems with the country. As a result, people are losing their incentive to go out and work.
Do you believe that most people really prefer working instead of relying on the government?
I believe that, and I feel that we have to go back to that incentivized system where people want to work and where it’s a great thing.
How do we return to a strong two-party system in this country where everyone is held accountable and everybody benefits, especially we the people?
You need the right people in each party. You need people that are respected, and you need ideas that are respected. You can have strong differences of opinion, but once an election takes place, you have to all chip in together and get the job done. You need respect, and you need leadership.
How important is it for us to return to the institution of family? How would it impact the country in 15-20 years, if strong fathers were teaching young men about responsibility, accountability, sacrifice, respect for themselves, respect for women?
Family — love of family, respect of family — is very important, and we are getting away from it, with each decade we get further away, and that’s very bad for people and for the country.
What do you think our immigration policy should be so it works for everyone?
Number one, you have to have borders, and you have to have a nation. You don’t have a nation when people can freely cross the border and do what’s going on right now, so you do need an immigration policy where you have very strong borders. You also need a policy where, as an example, people who go to Harvard and do well don’t get thrown out of the country. So you need a very comprehensive policy that helps America harvest the benefits of immigration, but you also need a policy of effective borders. You have to have a policy based on law and consistent expectations.
What would you do to improve the educational system so that who gets the best education would not depend on your zip code?
You need teachers, and you need the right teachers, and you need the respect of teachers, and you need the respect of education, because education is not respected highly enough in this country anymore.
How do you get teachers back to teaching?
You get them back to teaching for the love of teaching. You have to understand that teachers love to teach; they respect and honor their profession. You have to pay them a salary that’s adequate. A lot of teachers are not paid enough — some teachers are paid, frankly, too much — but a lot of the very good teachers are not paid enough. They love what they do, and they have a great passion for it.
One of the things that you are so well respected for is the notion of apprenticeship, and one of the things that people love about the apprenticeship is that you help people aspire to entrepreneurship — by inspiring imagination, thinking in critical situations, finding out who you are when everything is on the line. How do we return this country back to that spirit of industriousness where we create jobs, open up opportunities and we create businessmen that bring value to the communities where they are?
You have to create the incentive, and you have to let people know the importance of how great it is to be successful, and that it is OK to want to make more than a minimum wage — or whatever the number is that you are talking about. “The Apprentice” has been such a successful show and will be going on again for the 15th season this year because it creates incentives for people to want to be great.
Does that incentive come from the family you’re born into? Is it in your DNA? Is it learned and cultivated later in life?
It could be lots of different reasons, but certainly it can be taught and it can be learned.
What are some of the lessons that people can learn from your life, from the challenges you’ve experienced?
You have to love what you do, and obviously you have to have great knowledge of your craft. But if you don’t love what you do, you’ll never ever be successful at it.
Do you continue your education? Do you read? Are there things that you do to make sure you are always current with what’s going on with your field? What about other areas of entrepreneurship, politics and world events? Are you one of those people who are always yearning to read and learn more?
I am. I love to read, I love to study what’s going on currently, and, frankly, I gain a lot from learning about the past. If you don’t do that, you’re going to be really in trouble.
Someone said to me after I told them that we were interviewing you that it was so disappointing because Donald Trump is the kind of guy we need to run the United States and run it like a business. The media is so good at sullying someone’s character, and they end up trying to destroy the best people who have shown leadership — through entrepreneurship and leadership throughout their families. Do you believe that raising a strong, productive family and building businesses around the world prepares you for leadership, whether it’s leading the country or leading a major enterprise?
I think it helps, but you have to understand that it’s very, very hard for somebody that’s been successful and that’s done so much, been involved in so many deals, so many transactions, that all of a sudden you’re going to run for president. It’s actually easier to run for office — and you see it all the time — so many people that have done very little, and therefore they have nothing to be criticized for, end up being successful in politics. So it’s very easy to criticize somebody that’s been very successful, and I’ve always said it’s actually, in a certain perverse way, much harder for a very successful person to be elected in this country.
Is there anybody that you’ve seen in this field as we start thinking about 2016 that exhibits the type of leadership that you think can move this country forward?
If you ask me that question in about three months from now, I’ll probably be able to give you a much better answer, but right now nobody has come out and said they’re running. We’ll see what happens.
What would you do if you were given a month to go into a place like Ferguson, Missouri or some of these inner cities where it seems like there is such little hope, where people just have given in to crime and given in to having babies [before they’re ready for the responsibility]? If you had to go in and change the dynamics of those cities, what would you do different?
I’ve always had the ability to meet with people and to get along with people, and I have great relationships with the African-American community. I’d go in and talk with the people and see what’s going on, because there’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of hatred, and it’s very sad to see.
Do you think we’ve made progress in race relations, or that we’ve turned back the clock?
We’ve made progress, but there is certainly more progress that can be made.
Your final thoughts Mr. Trump?
My final thought is that the world is a complex place, it’s got a lot of problems, but with people like you and others, we will persevere and hopefully make it a better place in the future.
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