Says Wait to Enter Las Vegas Market Worthwhile
by Howard Stutz
Las Vegas Gaming Wire - May 30, 2007
VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas has held a 20-year fascination
for billionaire developer Donald Trump.
as Strip land values soared into the $20 million
to $30 million per acre price range, Trump sat on
the sidelines and watched. But then, three years
ago, he struck a deal with New Frontier owner Phil
Ruffin to build a 1,282-unit high-rise residential
tower on seven acres behind the hotel-casino.
has little regret that he waited to enter the market.
May 2007, Trump oversaw the topping-off of the first
64-story condo hotel in his $1.2 billion Trump International
Hotel & Tower. Sales on the second 1,280-unit
tower began in April and construction is expected
to begin next year.
said the value of his two-building luxury condo
hotel project and the seven-acre site surged two
weeks ago when New York-based developer Elad Group
agreed to pay more than $1.2 billion for 34 acres
that included the New Frontier.
are going to build a spectacular $5 billion project
right next to us," Trump said. "The people
who bought in my building early on feel real good
an interview with the Review-Journal before Friday's
ceremonies, Trump touched on a variety of topics,
from his attraction with Las Vegas to his on-and-off
friendship with casino developer Steve Wynn. (Trump
interrupted the interview to take a phone call from
Wynn, who couldn't attend the topping-off event).
also discussed potential changes in his Atlantic
City casino holdings, the possible end of his top-rated
reality television show, and becoming a grandfather
for the first time.
When you look at the value of Strip land nowadays,
do you wish you got into the market sooner?
No, because New York has seen an even bigger increase,
especially in Manhattan. Properties that were selling
for $1 million are now selling for routinely $15
million, $18 million or $20 million during that
same time span you're talking about. I'm one of
the largest developers in the world and my biggest
focus is Manhattan.
you think about Las Vegas, my timing was right.
I came in three years ago, built the first building
and sold it out with $1.3 billion in sales. It's
been a phenomenal success.
always been interested in Las Vegas, but in one
sense, my timing was good because I hit this market
at the right time and with a spectacular project.
Will you do something else in Las Vegas after the
Trump International is completed?
I've been looking at some things but not a lot because
of this building. People want me to get involved
in another project and I might, maybe in a joint-venture
Private equity has been coming into the casino industry
with the announced buyouts of Harrah's Entertainment
and Station Casinos. You own three casinos in Atlantic
City through a publicly traded company (30 percent
ownership of Trump Entertainment Resorts). Are you
surprised by this change?
The public vehicles are very tough to deal with
and a change is coming in all industries not just
the casino industry. A public company is much different
than a private company, especially in gaming. A
private person like myself has unlimited access
to capital. The casino industry is just a small
part of what I do. I estimated the casinos as being
just 2 percent of my net worth.
You asked Merrill Lynch in March to explore strategic
alternatives with your Atlantic City casinos. What
do you think will come from this?
I've always done well in Atlantic City. People know
how well I've done in real estate but they never
understood how well I've done in the casino business.
We're looking at alternatives. We could sell the
casinos for a lot of money, we can keep them, or
we can partner with someone else. That's what Merrill
Lynch is trying to determine, what is the next best
The Trump International is being built across from
Wynn Las Vegas. Can you describe your relationship
with Steve Wynn?
Steve is an amazing guy. About 90 percent of the
time we've been best friends and 10 percent of the
time we fight. But the fights have not been big
fights and it worked out very well. We had about
a two-year hiatus, but we now have a great friendship.
NBC left "The Apprentice" off of its fall
schedule. What's the status of the show?
NBC wants to renew it, but I'm not sure if I want
to because I'm so busy with what I'm doing. I have
buildings and projects all over the world. It was
amazing to have the No. 1 show on TV and we did
that for six seasons. I'm just trying to decide
if I want to do it again or not.
Your son, Donald Jr., and daughter, Ivanka, work
for you in the Trump Organization. What advice do
you have to parents who work with their children?
Answer: My kids are very smart, were
good students and they are leading a very big growth
in our company. You have to stay on top of your
kids and make sure you are guiding them properly.
You just want to help create the right path for
Donald Jr. and his wife just had a baby girl, your
first grandchild. Has if changed you?
Change is too strong a word and I don't know if
I feel any different but Don has been a great son,
and this has been a great experience.