Michael Booker with a signed copy of Donald Trump's book, "The Art Of The Deal".

10-02-2017

For the record, this is not an opinion article but an insight into what kind of person the new president of the United States is, what makes him tick and how he operates. It comes from a person who worked with him for the best part of a decade in the late '80s to mid '90s. And that person is Michael Booker. The current Immediate Past President of ESRA, he is a former three-time European medallist (silver in 1955 and 1956, bronze in 1957) and a six-time British national champion ice skater who was placed sixth at the 1956 Winter Olympics and fifth at the 1956 World Championships. He is also an extremely successful businessman in the United States, where he still owns a home in Texas.

Michael, who continues to share his time between Majorca and the US, first came into contact with Donald Trump in the late 1980s and from then on worked with him, helped and advised him for the best part of the next decade.

"I knew his father Fred. He was a very socially aware and caring person who made his fortune by building low income homes for people in the poorer areas of New York in exchange for tax credits for building bigger and better developments such as the Trump Hospital and other facilities, which you can see as you drive from JFK Airport into the city.

"He was a very conscientious person and eventually lent or gave his fourth son a million dollars. The young Trump however decided to follow his father’s development footsteps but at the high end of the market.

"I got involved with him in the mid '80s. I knew his first wife Ivana very well, she was very smart, just like Donald and all the people he surrounds himself with. Initially our business relationship was loose but then became more intense in the late '80s when he called me in to take care of reviving the Wollman Ice Rink in New York’s Central Park.

"What was clear from the start is that he is a smart man, very clever and extremely single minded. He, like Rupert Murdoch, does not differentiate between work and life, it is all one. Life is his work and he would quite often be in the office at 6.30am and not leave until well gone 9pm. Having said that, he is a very dedicated family man who does not drink or smoke. And he has an ability, and this is probably his strongest asset, to focus.

"His focus has a great power of intensity and he knows most things he embarks on are going to be a success, he makes sure of that.

"A perfect example was the political campaign for the White House. A person with no political experience saw off 13 challengers - all of whom had previous experience in politics and some had the backing of some serious political heavyweights. But he still came out on top in the Republican Party and then went to beat Hillary Clinton to become president - despite being belittled and derided throughout the campaign by the media. But he never ever lost his focus. That is how he built his business empire and that is how he is going to run the White House. The Presidency is not going to change Trump, Trump is going to change the Presidency.

"He will run the United States just like he ran his company. He knows he is no politician but he has a great deal of experience in a wide range of areas and he is very good at making sure he is surrounded by the right people - very clever and smart people, and that is what he is doing in the White House.

"Remember, he is only being paid a dollar to be president and many of his advisors are just as wealthy as he is and will be taking the similar approach. That way it makes them accountable to no one, just the American people who Trump, throughout his campaign, vowed to serve and help. ‘Make America Great Again’ was his slogan and that is what he is going to do.

"Another thing which he has made clear over the years is that like him, agree with him or not, he is true to his word. What he says he does, he puts his money where his mouth is. He has promised to succeed where former politicians have failed and that message connected with the American people. Most Americans vote with their wallets, they want to work, get a better job, improve their lives. The majority are conservative people who work hard, providing they have a job, love their family, want to give them a better life, maybe go to church at least once a month. Apart from that, they keep themselves to themselves, and those were the millions of people Trump connected with because they were tired of having watched previous politicians fail in providing what needed to be done for America.

"Most Americans have reached the point where they don’t want to hear about what the country has or has not done in Syria. They want to know what is happening in their backyard, and if it’s not working, what is going to be done about it. And that is where Trump won.

"I have to admit, at first, I didn’t think he would but as he gained momentum and stuck to his simple message, his slogan, his campaign gathered momentum. He was true to the people and he will do his best to honour his word now he is in the White House. Yes, he made some outlandish comments, but that is how he does business. He will come out with the most outrageous statements, set the bar as high as it can be set and from there the negotiations begin. Eventually, as all parties involved begin to give and take, lower their bids and offers, Trump will end up exactly where he expected to be when he went into the negotiations and that is how he is dealing with his foreign counterparts.

"The last thing Trump wants is a third world war because that would not only harm the rest of the world but also the country he and his family live in. He’s not stupid.

"Quite simply, he has shaken up the way Washington and the United States works and listened to the voice of the people who live in the non-metropolitan areas of the country. They’ve always had opinions, but they’ve hardly ever been taken into account. Trump has flipped that on its head and the establishment don’t like it. They don’t know how to deal with it, but the rest of the country admires him for it and this is the start of a peaceful revolution which is slowly creeping across the Western world.

"We’ve had Brexit, and similar events could take place in France, Greece, Holland and Poland. The silent majority now have a voice, they have had enough of politicians with little or no experience telling them what to do and how they should live their lives, and Trump nailed that on his campaign.

"Yes, there is controversy. The Mexican wall for example. But it’s not the first wall the world has had, nor was it Trump’s idea. Work on the wall began years ago. We have the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall, Spain has the great fences in Ceuta and Melilla. What one has to ask firstly is what is the wall for, the answer being to keep people out, and then why.

"Mexico is an extremely rich country, as is the government, but that money doesn’t get passed on to the people. Wages are very low, health care is poor along with other services. So what do most Mexicans want to do? Get across to the United States where they can earn more money, albeit mostly on the black market, get better care and support their families. I live in Texas and see hoards coming across every day. You don’t see that in Canada because Canada has been and is very good at looking after its own, and most Americans want to see the White House looking after them again.

"It’s not about the United States being the superpower of the world. Yes, it has the resources to be that, but that is not Trump’s aim: His aim is to do what he said during his campaign, make America great again and that will involve putting America and Americans first. That said, if Trump says he wants a strong relationship with the UK, for example, then that is what he will strive to have. Like I said, he is a man of his word, but he does not take fools lightly.

"Only this week, Wall Street hit record highs. Again, like him, agree with him or not, the markets know him, they know he makes money, he is successful so large companies and corporations would rather be with him than on the outside.

"His modus operandi is quite simple. Apart from his advisors, to whom he listens all the time, there are people constantly pitching him with properties or plots. If he likes one, he will have an architect come up with a brief and then he will take that to the bank for financing. Once the money is secured, construction or refurbishment will begin and then the property, say a hotel, will become the Trump whatever. Within a year or so, he will roll it over and sell it, but with one condition - that the new owner purchases and pays for the licence to maintain the brand name Trump. So, there are hundreds of buildings and enterprises all round the world branded Trump, and the Trump Organisation, which invited me to the president’s inauguration, makes a healthy income from the branding licences.

"Like I said, he is a very smart and astute man and most people in the States know that. They may not like him or agree with him, but that’s the fact and the rest of the world has suddenly woken up to the fact that what happened in the United States could quite easily happen anywhere in the western world. Just look at Brexit, the people have found their voice."

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