The Indicator from Planet Money - Behind The Art Of The Deal

Stacey talks to Tony Schwartz, co-author of Trump: The Art Of The Deal, about the book and the recent New York Times report exploring President Trump's tax records.

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times has published a huge investigative piece about President Donald Trump's tax returns. They've been the subject of curiosity and secrecy for years now and some of the revelations are pretty splashy including that President trumps businesses have claimed billions of dollars in losses over the years and the President Trump has basically not paid corporate taxes in more than a decade. This is Success has long been a source of Pride for President Trump their speculation. These Revelations will damage Trump's reputation as a successful businessman or reputation. He has been cultivating since the publication of his best selling a 1987 book The Art of the deal. The book was co-written by Tony Schwartz who was not a corporate Tycoon, but a journalist who did a profile of trump for Playboy magazine Trump told Tony he can give him much material for the article. We had to save his best stories for this book. He was about to write

And I said what you don't have an autobiography yet. You're only 37 years old and if I were you and you determined to write a book I call it the art of the deal because people are interested in deals right now. He said I like that you want to ride it.

And therein Stacy the Fateful decision of my life.

This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith on the show a conversation with Tony Schwartz about the art of the deal taxes and Donald Trump the businessman.

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Tony Schwartz co-author of the art of the deal. Thank you so much for joining me. So from what I understand in order to write this book you spent a lot of time with President Trump and watching him do business. The way Trump has worked and lived his life was on the phone and it since I was writing about deals and since he was talking about those deals on all those phone calls. That was some way I could do the book. So you basically spent how how many months just like listening to Trump do business bankers lawyers the media, what did You observe to huff and puff Tilley blue you down?

She would say anything if it Advanced is cause and then he would keep saying it and saying it and saying, you know, that's the way he is now. He's exactly the same deal that stand out in your mind is kind of like a classic Trump deal remains one of his most profitable big successful deal for him and I would say that I never say this but your I go there were flashes of intuitive Brilliance in the making of that deal. Now there were some very awful things. He did in the making of that deal, but he really did do a remarkable job of gathering together a very fantastic in a fantastic location the rights that made it possible to build a building of that song.

Like the permits and the loans and all that stuff to get the air rights from Tiffany Labyrinthian City to be able to do it put together the pieces of that deal and then he did something in the lobby that I say one tremendous and you know, it was there weren't many indoor malls at the time certainly not filled with gold the kind of marble he used and it was one of the things that surprised me when I was learning about your your journey with him was very open. He was with you were you surprised at how secretive he was about his tax returns. She knows that not paying taxes is not going to be impressive or appealing to other people particularly, you know among people who make far less than he does which is virtually everyone.

When they have to pay tax and then it's reported. They keep Pace nut. That's something it's worth keeping secret strikes me about the taxes though is you know on his tax returns. It's like the reason he's not paying taxes is cuz he's losing all this money and I mean companies people do this all the time. They write stuff off against their taxes. Why would he hide it is at the idea of of showing that his businesses are losing money. That would be awful that's awful to him in many ways. That's worse than all the rest. Really. Yes to have it be seen that he is not the businessman. He has claimed to be is it would be nice to him a sign of failure weakness vulnerability that would be or is almost intolerable to him his relationship with money has different things to different people, you know, for some people it's freedom for some people. It's security what is money for President Trump expression of his value.

She defines his personal worth by his net worth.

Just to go back to the taxes. If you just take something as simple as the deduction of $70,000 for haircuts over a. Of years. Yes. She is. So obviously I'm on many many other deductions. He takes he did it cuz he thought he could get away with it. What was his approach to taxes back then? Did you see any like feels that stick out of your head that involved taxes then I'm going to do it which by the way to some degree or another.

All real estate developers to spending time with president from that's that's great.

In a certain way I did I would sort of I would say being around Trump in that area cuz I was probably a high point in his career, you know Trump International Brandy was known everywhere there were being around this guy the fact that he was in some ways to sort of larger-than-life how to certain kind of intoxicating pull any I do have to ask like how how much money did you make off the book? I'd say probably a million dollars or maybe more somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars since Trump became president. I ever okay and I have given all of that money away and giving it away specifically to

causes that defends the kinds of people who Trump

Ignores immigrants and poor people and environmental causes because I did come to see that money as blood money. Do you think that President Trump would be President Trump if it hadn't been for the art of the deal?

if I'm being brutally honest by gases know if I hadn't helped to set the frame the fictional frame that the art of the deal does about who Donald Trump is

It's much less likely that he would have been able to work his way up the ladder in the way that he did bankruptcy. So you're most of the deals in the art of the deal that we that we wrote about as if they were great successes were actually failure.

Schwartz is the author of the new book dealing with the devil my mother Trump and me.

This episode of the indicator was produced by Jamila Huxtable and Darian was it was fact-checked by Sean. Saldania the indicators edited by Patty Hirsch and is the production of NPR
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