“Trump: What’s The Deal,” a documentary completed in 1991, was meant to be the first in a series on the celebrity businessmen who characterized the greed-is-good 1980s. It was never released as Donald Trump threatened to sue any broadcaster or distributor who handled it.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, however, it is now available — lawsuit-free — to anyone with a curiosity about how the real estate magnate built his shady fortune.
In the case of Trump Tower, that involved using illegal Polish immigrant labor, who were paid less than minimum wage, to demolish the old building on the site, and a Mafia-connected contractor to dispose of its asbestos-riddled debris.
This doc shows its age, but is full of such illuminating moments, whether it’s The Donald insisting that a 58-story building has 68 floors, or demanding that flight paths be moved after purchasing the Mar-a-Lago estate. As Trump flings lawsuits against business partners and architecture critics, we are reminded who his lawyer was: Roy Cohn, the weasel best remembered as U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy’s legal counsel during the Red Scare, and for representing Mafia dons John Gotti and Tony Salerno.
The irony, of course, is that when this doc wrapped in 1991, the real estate magnate and now U.S. president seemed to be going belly up on his over-leveraged casino deals, while his very public divorce with then-wife Ivana had made him a laughingstock. Who says there are no second acts in American lives?
“Trump: What’s The Deal” is available on Vimeo: bit.ly/trumpwtd