Does gaudiness ever upset you in New York? Like Times Square, for example?
Yeah, I think that gaudiness upsets me. But I think in Times Square it has a place. I don’t like gaudy, but in Times Square gaudy has a place.
Does it upset you that you’re a symbol of excess? Now that you’re in your later years, do you aspire to some sort of Zen-like modesty?
No. Because I think I’ve gotten tremendous reviews on what I’ve done. I mean the reviews on Trump Tower [at 725 Fifth Avenue] have been fantastic, Gucci is taking the entire base of the building; they’re building a spectacular store. I used Philip Johnson to design Trump International Hotel & Tower. … I’ve had very few buildings where I haven’t received great accolades.
Is bigness something that you value? Would you be sorry if in your later years you gave away all your money and were out of the public eye and your name wasn’t as big and you weren’t on the billionaire list anymore? Would that affect the way you think of yourself?
Nothing affects me. And nothing affects the way I think of myself.
But something affects everyone. And you’ve said you hate looking at bad press.
I didn’t say that. No. For instance, your questions are nasty and yet I answer them. I could throw you out; I guess if they got a little nastier I probably would. But you ask nasty questions, I give you an answer. And, you know, it doesn’t affect me. I don’t mind bad press, I mind lying press. I’ve had bad press, but if it’s been truthful I handle it because it’s the truth. But, when I get bad press that’s false, then I do attacks.
You’re on TV on The Apprentice, often on news show, having very public feuds. In strictly day-to-day New York real estate business, are you a less war-torn guy? Are you more peaceful than a TV viewer would guess?
I believe that when somebody attacks you, you should attack the person back. Whether it’s Israel, which is the Israeli attitude, I believe in that attitude: When you get attacked, you attack back. … I don’t think you change personally.
What would it take for you to think, ‘You know what, this neighborhood activist has some really good points!’
I do that all the time. The community boards … they give you some ideas that—you could be a super-genius, but you don’t necessarily think of everything. They gave me many good ideas. And also I will say, on the negative aspect, some great ideas were taken away.
Do you care about living green, or building green?
I know everything about green, I know more about green building than anybody. And I know also that when I go into a building I like to have good air-conditioning, I like to have good heating, and I like to have lights where you can see. … I have to go! O.K., man?