Forbes estimates Trump licensing and hotel management, the branding of “Trump,” is worth about $170 million to The Trump Organization; noting, however, that the Trump brand appeal seems to be fading, most notably in N.Y.C. and Toronto. The Trump Organization, for their part, is ahead of the curve. They’ve introduced new brands named “Scion” and “American Idea” as a less polarizing way to sell their products.
Companies are simply not as willing to produce Trump-branded merchandise as they have been. Three years ago, almost 20 companies made Trump-brand merch, today only two international companies produce his namesake products. In 2009, “Trump” was bringing in $215 million a year on such products. In 2017 sales had dwindled to an insignificant $370,000 in licensing deals. The Washington Post has been dutifully reporting on all of Trump’s licensing deals or lack thereof. The Bezos-Trump rivalry keeps getting hotter. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and WaPo owner is number one on the Forbes 400 list. Trump, substantially lower. No envy there.
Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA Beauty Pageants
When Trump owned the Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss U.S.A. and Miss Teen U.S.A., it was a hands-on business enterprise. For 20 years he operated the pageants—from 1996 until he was forced out by NBC in 2015. His routine, on pageant days, which he personally attended, included mingling amongst the young women as they rehearsed their final routine before entering the stage, chatting with them and shaking hands with each contestant. In a 2005 interview by Howard Stern, Trump bragged about this exclusive perk, “I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else.” Going on about the access he’s entitled to, “And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore I’m inspecting it. . . ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”
Girls and women complained about Trump’s intrusions on several occasions. In 2015, during the Trump campaign, NBC, who had produced the televised pageant shows since 2002, along with Univision, ended its business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization due to Trump’s negative political opinions. Until 2015, Trump Productions, The Trump Organization’s media company, televised the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Trump tried to hold onto the pageant by buying NBC’s stake but had to sell to a talent agency and entertainment cooperative. His racist comments about immigrants and Mexicans, again, caused him to lose one of his coveted investments.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation
Trump had not contributed to his charitable organization called the Donald J. Trump Foundation since 2008. This, despite the fact that that proceeds from the sale of his book, The Art of the Deal, was supposed to be donated to the organization that he founded in 1988; all the while he mercilessly markets the book and his deal-making prowess. A notable donation came from Linda and Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment after Trump appeared at one of their WrestleMania gigs in 2007.
They poured a generous $5 million into his foundation. One reason Trump hates the Washington Post (besides that time its reporter narc’d him out to first wife Ivana about his affairs) is that it’s been reporting on the foundation’s ethical violations such as self-profiting from a 501(c)3; making political donations, using funds to settle property lawsuits and tax evasion. Under scrutiny and scandal, the Trump Organization was forced to shutter the charitable foundation last year, a week before Christmas, when his lawyers reached an agreement with the New York attorney general. The organization has given away $19 million to various organizations and causes since its inception.
The Casino Deals
Trump got into the casino business in earnest in 1984 when Harrah’s at Trump Plaza opened in Atlantic City. In 1986 he bought out Harrah’s stake and management for $250 million, and it came to be known as Trump Plaza. He purchased another building in the New Jersey city from Hilton for $320 million, transforming it into Ivana’s management project they called Trump Castle. But Trump had his eye on an even bigger slice of Atlantic City. His plan was to take over Resorts International, a struggling casino franchise which was the largest landowner in the city.
Its Taj Mahal project, the world’s largest casino, stood partially finished. Trump acquired it for $280 million in 1989, stretching credit and funds for the massive project that opened in 1990. He also picked up the Atlantis, renaming it the Trump Regency. The 1990s recession caused him to lose all but 10 percent in his Atlantic City properties. He stretched his investments too far, and his highly leveraged empire nearly collapsed.
The Golf Resorts – $550 Million
The Trump Organization owns about 18 golf courses and clubs worldwide. Most of them are located in the U.S., however, Trump owns one in Ireland and two in Scotland. Trump’s been wanting to develop the Scotland, Aberdeenshire golf resort, adding to his existing development with luxury accommodations and residences, for a long time. He’s been very patient. In Aberdeenshire, Scotland, however, neighbors have not been supportive, to say the least, and his cavalier attitude has earned him a lot of pushback from the locals. He’s been accused of bullying local residents into accepting his plans. Some felt threatened to sell. He announced to worldwide media that he’s getting rid of one neighbor’s home because it’s ugly. He built a wall and asked neighbors to pay for half.
Recently, the Aberdeenshire Council has been bombarded with a record number of formal letters of objection. Over 3,000 residents have written to the council to lodge their complaint, at exactly 3,026 letters, it’s the highest number in council history. The vote to allow the Trump Organization to go through with its development plan will happen early this year. (It’s rumored that a large percentage of the investment funding comes from wealthy Russians who adore Scottish golf courses after Eric Trump said as much to a Fortune golf writer while golfing with him in 2013. He since denied saying that, calling it “fake news”). Trump also rubbed the Scottish the wrong way by using an unregistered, possibly plagiarized, coat of arms in his resort branding. The heraldic officials in Scotland were not pleased. All coats of arms must be registered and approved by the Court of Lord Lyon, he wasn’t. They shouldn’t feel offended, he never licensed Trump University either.