with Jack Christie, VP of Sales-Marketing
International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas
by Brian Wargo, Staff Writer
In Business Las Vegas
Donald Trump's point man for selling condo-hotel
units in Las Vegas, Jack Christie doesn't have to
worry about hearing "You're fired."
Christie, sales and marketing vice president of
the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas,
and his staff have sold all but 35 of the 1,282
units in the 64-story tower that is scheduled to
be opened on New Year's Eve 2007.
Plans for a second tower will be announced next
Christie, 69, who came to Las Vegas in 1996, has
served as vice president of sales at Lake Las Vegas
and vice president of sales for American Nevada
Company, where he managed the closeout of custom-home
sites in Seven Hills and in Green Valley.
Christie has been married 35 years and has six children
and 11 grandchildren.
What are the plans for opening
for New Year's Eve 2007?
Answer: Donald Trump is the one who would like to
do it on New Year's Eve. And I am sure he has his
ideas of what he would like to do. No doubt, it
will be as gala an event as Las Vegas has ever seen
on top of the normal New Year's celebration.
What does the Trump name mean for this project?
It is 99 percent of why we have been so successful.
The Trump brand is what caused people to flock to
our door, some of whom know of Trump or purchased
other Trump hotels and buildings elsewhere in New
York or Chicago or Florida. Nothing would be successful
as it is if it wasn't for the Trump brand on the
building. That's why people come into our sales
center. That's why they buy units in our condo hotel
and expect the very, very best.
What is the mix of buyers?
The majority of people are most likely going to
place their unit in the Trump Hotel rental program.
I guess you might categorize them as investors.
We figure very few people will live in their hotel
unit on a full-time basis. Thirty-five percent of
our buyers are from Las Vegas. That is great. That
shows there is local following of activity.
Over 90 percent of our sales have been referred
by real estate brokers. When you know you have the
following of the real estate broker community who
likes what you do and trusts the Trump organization
- that we are going to build what we say we are
going to build, that we are going to represent our
company right and know we are going to treat their
customers right - that is the most gratifying of
What is the price range to buy here?
The price range was originally $550,000 to $5.5
million. The last sales and those remaining for
sale are in the high $700,000s to $7 million.
What was the reaction when the prices were announced?
When we announced a $1,000 a square foot, many people
thought we were crazy. One thousand dollars a square
foot was something unheard of. Obviously Donald
was aware of that and $1,000 a foot is nothing in
comparison to what he's achieved in New York, where
it goes as high as $3,000 a foot. Then as things
progressed and prices increased in this town, it's
amazing that $1,000 a foot wasn't the exception
but the norm."
How has the upswing in construction costs impacted
Very little impact. One of the keys to a successful
construction project is that in addition to pricing
it right and having the building financed and satisfying
a presale requirement is getting the right contractor
to build. Certainly the Perini Co. is the finest
contractor in this town.
What about your location on the Strip?
I remember five or six years ago the movement in
this town was south when the Bellagio, the Paris,
Mandalay Bay and New York-New York came into the
picture. It seems like everything was moving south.
Things changed with the brand across the street
by the name of the Wynn and what it did for us.
Here with Trump and Wynn and now with the Stardust
that will be replaced by Echelon and Wynn now with
the Encore. The New Frontier will be replaced. Phil
Ruffin is planning to build the Montreux that will
tie into the hotel complex of the Trump International
Hotel and Tower. The majority of movement is going
And your location next to
the Fashion Show mall?
"It's tremendous. The people will walk out
of the front door of the Trump International Hotel
and walk directly across the street and it's the
front door of Nordstrom's. You can't get much better
Why not have a hotel with
gaming instead of a condo hotel?
"This is a partnership with Phil Ruffin and
Donald Trump. They are equal partners. Phil is the
gaming expert here with the New Frontier and what
will be the Montreux. When the decision was made
there are many of us who applauded our decision
not to have a casino because that kind of set us
apart. There are many people who purchased because
we were not going to have that casino.
Why is that?
These people who will own the unit and occupy it
like the fact that many people who come to Las Vegas
come for reasons other than gambling. So whether
it's a conference, coming for the dining or for
the other experiences, not everyone is interested
in gambling. That is one of the things that sets
us apart from other hotels that are being built
or have been built.
What's the status of the
The second tower will be announced officially on
national TV by Donald Trump when airing "Apprentice
6," which has already been filmed except for
the finale. It hits television after the first of
the year. It will be almost identical to the first
tower. We will add another 1,200 or so condo hotel
What happened when the first
tower was announced in December 2004 when the winner
of "Apprentice 2" was given a choice to
work in Las Vegas but chose New York?
All of a sudden our phones started ringing because
we got national exposure. We had 300 to 400 units
reserved in just a matter of a few days.
What happened with the taping
of "Apprentice 6"?
The contestants at that time were given the challenge
by him to come to Las Vegas and establish the marketing
program for Tower 2. The Apprentice candidates came
to town and picked our brains and went back after
meeting us and made a presentation to Donald on
what they think should be the marketing program
for Tower 2.
Now, when the finale of the "Apprentice 6"
is aired, we will know in advance what their recommendation
is. That's when we will be announcing what the marketing
program will be. As Donald Trump has said to us,
it is quite unique to have a show with a 55-minute
commercial on Trump International Hotel.
What was it like to appear
on the show?
It was interesting. I may be living proof on why
they have editing rooms. I am not sure but at least
it was nice to have the experience of 35 people
coming in here - lighting men and sound men.
Will the winner work here?
We are hoping that is the case, but we don't know
for sure yet.
Will "Apprentice 7" be taped in Las Vegas?
That is a possibility. That's one of the things
Donald is deciding on right now since all of "Apprentice
6" is filmed in Southern California. "Apprentice
7" may be a combination of there and here,
but that is a decision he will make in the future.
Does Donald Trump have any
other plans for Las Vegas?
None that I am aware of. Let's face it. No one builds
more high rises in New York than Donald Trump. I
can't speak for him, but I imagine when the two
towers are built and Donald being successful as
he has been and will be, my guess is he will look
to do other things here in Las Vegas.
Will he have a place at
the condo hotel?
He has a three-bedroom penthouse.
did you come to work for Trump?
responded to an ad looking for someone who was local
and someone who had a real estate broker's license
and involved in the high end. Fortunately I had
all three of those requirements. I am sure many
other people had as well. I happened to be the first
one to raise my hand.
What was your first meeting
with Donald Trump like?
I met with Donald three months after I was hired,
and it was a pleasant experience. The meeting was
at the architect's office. And of course we see
him on television and see the person who always
says "You're fired."
I was amazed the knowledge he had and expertise
in what he wanted. He knew it so well. He asked
the questions of his people whether those of whom
worked for him and the contractors or architects
and gave his opinion. I walked out of the meeting
and said if ever I was in the right place at the
right time working for the right guys, with him
and Phil Ruffin, that was it.
What don't people know about
him that may surprise them?
I think the most surprising thing and I got to work
with some of the people in New York, many of them
met over the phone or via e-mail, I am amazed at
the loyalty he gets from them because they are so
impressed with him. They say he is sensitive and
loyal to them. That is not something you might have
How has he influenced you?
Needless to say as many times I am interviewed,
it is not because of me, it's because I represent
the Trump organization. It is nice to be able to
say to people I work for Donald Trump or work for
the Trump organization. When I hand out the business
card, that we jokingly refer to as the Trump card,
it is amazing the doors that it opens and the attention
that people get when you say "Trump."
They immediately want to know more.
What makes Trump successful?
He has the strongest belief in quality. When we
jack-hammered out the marble (in the models) two
weeks before opening, it is because we didn't think
and he didn't think it was the best. Any time you
have a conversation with him, it's, "Let's
change it and make it the best. Let's change this
to that." His dedication to being the premier
developer and building the best and having that
brand name be recognized as the best sets him apart.
What can you teach him?
I am not sure I can teach him anything other than
to love Las Vegas as much as I do.
Where do you see yourself
in the future?
I see myself finishing this project. We have a lot
work to do in preparation for the introduction of
the second tower. We don't expect the second tower
would even open before 2010. Beyond that, to be
honest with you, I don't have any plans. I am assuming
that I would still be with the Trump organization,
and that I haven't heard the two famous words.
Do you live in fear of being
told, 'You're fired'?
No, I don't. As I said to people jokingly, say that
if and when I am ever going to be fired, nothing
would be better than to be fired by the man, preferably
on national TV in front of 25 million people. I
would call up my friends and tell them it is happening.
No, I don't live in fear of that. It is my job to
do a good job and I don't look behind me because
we have been successful in what we have been doing.
I think we will continue to be.
Wargo covers real estate and development for In
Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the
Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at (702) 259-4011
or by e-mail at email@example.com.