Real estate entrepreneur and television personality Donald Trump encouraged Wharton School alumni to take risks and connected his message to supporting Israel.
In speech at the Wharton Club dinner in Washington, D.C., Trump recalled being told by his agent that he would not succeed on television. The Wharton Club, the largest alumni network of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, presented Trump with the Joseph Wharton award.
“I did a book called The Art of the Deal and it became the biggest selling business book of all time. Who would have thought that, and then Mark Burnett approached me. He did Survivor and in the meantime, I’m building buildings all over the place and Mark Burnett came up and he said, ‘You know, I have an idea, I’d love to talk to you about it,’” Trump said on Wednesday, referring to the start of his reality show, The Apprentice.
“I was told by my agent, I have an agent, lets call him Jim, and he said it will never last. You can’t make it. There’s never been, up to that point, a business show on primetime television that made it so you’re not going to make it. I said, ‘Well, I have a problem because I shook Mark Burnett’s hand. I shook NBC’s hand.’ A lot of people don’t know this about me, I’m honorable. I’m an honorable person when I shake somebody’s hand. That’s a very valuable lesson. I mean, in business when you have that reputation, it really is a good thing,” Trump added.
Trump told his agent there was nothing he could do since the deal was done.
“Then the show goes on. He’s very angry. It starts off at No. 10 then it goes to No. 8 and then it goes to No. 5, then in week No. 4 it went to No. 2 and then it went to No. 1,” he said. “I had the No. 1 show on television. I couldn’t believe it. I was a movie star and I couldn’t take advantage of it because I’m happily married.”
Trump, whose wife Melania also attended the event, told the audience that his agent thought he was entitled to a commission.
“So I said but Jim, you were the one that demanded that I not do the show. You were angry as hell. You wanted to quit. You said I’m going to make a fool out of myself if I do the show and it’s going to get canceled immediately and that no business show had ever made it on primetime,” Trump said.
“He said, ‘Well, I didn’t really say that.’ See, he’s no different than a real estate broker, I guess. I won’t say politician, I refuse to say that. So I said Jim, how much do you want? He said, ‘Would $4 million be fair?’ I said, ‘Jim, you’re fired’ and that was the end of that,” he added.
Trump said his story shows individuals must take risks in life to be successful.
“It tells you to take risks in life. You do things in life. You work hard in life and it’s OK, you can make mistakes and you can have failures,” Trump said. “You have to learn from your failures. You can’t just have a failure and say, ‘lets go on to the next failure.’ You have to learn and if you learn, lots of good things happen.”
Trump then praised the work of Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the United States and Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania alumnus. Dermer has worked as a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There could be some tremendously positive surprises from Ron because of his capability and the capability of friends of mine that he deals with on a daily basis in his government that I happen to be a big supporter of, but lots of good things, I think, are going to happen there,” Trump said.
He also gave the audience a teaser of the next Apprentice season, saying there are two full episodes featuring the late comedian Joan Rivers.
“She was so full of vim and vigor and life and what happened – when you get bad doctors, bad things happen, folks, remember that,” Trump said.
Before his speech, Wharton alumni lined up at a reception to take photos with Trump.
PJ Media asked Trump for his opinion of the Obama administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak.
“Not good,” Trump responded, as he continued to greet attendees.