After The New York Times‘ recent exposé of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s tax evasion and bankruptcy scandal, I thought I’d share my recent dealings with the real estate mogul before and after I established my own NYC PR firm.

Working with Mr. Trump was like being in a “reality distortion field.” Right before his first bankruptcy went public, I worked with “the Donald” in promoting the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City during a seven-day grand opening extravaganza in 1990.

During the event, Trump tried to suppress the news of his bankruptcy. He told me point blank, “Keep that story out of the Wall Street Journal.” Luckily, Trump couldn’t stop the story from running. Or, as he put it, he couldn’t “kill it.” The article became front page news in The Wall Street Journal, written by a reporter with whom I’m now friends.

Trump’s Unprofessional Grand Opening

The Trump Taj Mahal’s press party was something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on LSD, except with caviar and crayfish. It was all piled high on a table. Because I have a smaller frame, I couldn’t reach it.

I, along with along with other members of the press, were locked inside this room, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for seven days. I only got out of the building once in those seven days for 15 minutes to breathe some fresh air on Atlantic City’s boardwalk.

Trump also kept the press at complete arm’s length. There was little to no interaction. The only time he came into the press room was once to ask “Does everybody have enough to eat?”

The one time Trump walked through the lobby, there was the “flying wedge” of the press behind him. They went after him with cameras and microphones. But since we never got the chance to speak to Trump, we could only write statements out of the blue and from talks with members of the Trump Organization.

Our NYC PR Firm Covers Opening Of Trump Tower

I first encountered Mr. Trump in 1980 before forming my NYC PR firm. I remember sitting on the stoop with him opposite the Grand Hyatt New York when it was still under construction. We were waiting for Paul Goldberger of The New York Times to arrive for a walk through of the site.

Mr. Trump, then 29, turned to me and said “I need somebody like you.” I remember the comment just not registering with me. He seemed unimpressive at the time and, quite frankly, I thought the building was tacky-looking.

In 1993, I established my own top boutique PR firm in NYC. My first project just so happened to be the opening of the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Columbus Circle in New York City. That was a relatively easy launch because the lobby in the building only had room for 20 journalists and camera crews.

Trump also had a fundraiser after the launch at Lincoln Center with Aretha Franklin, which was nice. But after the recent news regarding the Donald J. Trump Foundation not being properly filed as a non-profit with the State of New York, God knows where the money really went.

Experience With Four Seasons Hotels Was Polar Opposite

In the intervening years with Trump, I had the opportunity to work directly with the founder of the Four Seasons Hotel, Isadore Sharp. He was the complete opposite of Donald Trump. Mr. Sharp had no airs, conducted himself in accordance to ‘The Golden Rule,’ had the highest moral standards and knew everyone by name.

When I started representing the now-renowned hotel group, there were only two properties in the United States. Under Mr. Sharp’s leadership, the company grew and I had the privilege of promoting over 27 of their properties, including the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris and the Four Seasons Tokyo. I was also the point person for the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel in New York.

Mr. Sharp was a stunning contrast to Mr. Trump. On one hand, there was a renowned hotelier, and on the other, there was a tasteless individual who created the Trump Taj Mahal, which was like a bad dream of Indian architecture going crazy and a kid drawing in a coloring book with colors that don’t match.

In retrospect, I realize that I got my start in public relations due in part to that first project with Trump on 42nd Street. Because of this, I believe I do owe him something. However, I still find Trump to be an egomaniac and a narcissist of untold proportions. Just as I did then, I think he treats everything, including his candidacy, like the Me, Myself, and I Show starring, who else? But me!

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