9. He’s known for a long time that generating controversy isn’t always a bad thing. In 1980 he got a lot of bad press (including a negative editorial in this newspaper) for destroying friezes and iron grillwork on the old Bonwit Teller department store building, because preserving them would have delayed demolition that was necessary to make way for Trump Tower. But the criticism had an upside.
The stories that appeared about it invariably started with sentences like “In order to make way for one of the world’s most luxurious buildings...” Even though the publicity was almost entirely negative, there was a great deal of it, and that drew a tremendous amount of attention to Trump Tower...
I learned a lot from that experience: good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.
10. He’s also long known that a spectacle can impress people even if there is no substance behind it. In 1982, he wanted Holiday Inn to buy a stake in his casino project in Atlantic City, and he was concerned it would decline because construction wasn’t far enough along. So he told his construction manager to hire a ton of bulldozers and dump trucks to move dirt around the site, so it would look extremely busy when Holiday Inn executives made a site visit. The instructions were simple:
What the bulldozers and dump trucks did wasn’t important, I said, so long as they did a lot of it.
According to Mr. Trump, this display worked: “These distinguished corporate leaders looked on, some of them visibly awed. I’ll never forget one of them turning to me, shaking his head, and saying, ‘You know, it’s great when you’re a private guy, and you can just pull out all the stops.’ ”
Of all the lessons in “The Art of the Deal,” this may be the one most directly informing Mr. Trump’s campaign.