Before The Apprentice, Trump Was Pitching Hamburgers And Hemorrhaging Losses

Donald Trump's 2002 commercial for McDonald's 'Big N Tasty' burger.Screengrab / Brand X / YouTube


“Trump’s genius…wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.”

President Donald Trump bills himself as a genius real estate developer, but according to a New York Times analysis of his tax returns, Trump was busy pitching hamburgers and hemorrhaging losses before 'The Apprentice' bailed him out.

On his income tax returns, [Trump] reported annual net losses throughout the 1990s, some of it carried forward year to year, a tide that would swell to $352.8 million at the end of 2002.

  • Per The Times, in 2004 “Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year.”
  • Prior to the debut of ‘The Apprentice,’ the president’s “side income was mostly confined to $500,000 for appearing in the Big N’ Tasty burger ad and a small amount of book royalties,” The Times reported.
  • However, Trump’s side gigs would pick up steam as his celebrity increased, leading him to rake in “$5.2 million from 11 different ad campaigns and speaking gigs, all propelled by his growing popularity as a reality-TV businessman.”
  • Trump earned $850,000 for a laundry detergent deal with Unilever, along with “$250,000 more from a public-relations firm Unilever hired to help run an ad campaign coined ‘Softness fit for a Trump.’”
  • And according to the report, “Another $15 million would pour in from Trump neckties, shirts and underwear by clothiers like Phillips-Van Heusen."
  • Trump’s tax returns show that he earned $197 million from ‘The Apprentice’ over 16 years, per The Times, and that “an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it.”

Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.

Read the full report.


U.S. & Global News