Trump Debunked: We fact-check The Donald's outrageous claims


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Donald Trump has said a lot of ridiculous things over the years. And not just related to the “amazing things” his crack team of investigators uncovered in Hawaii while investigating President Obama’s birth certificate. Or his aborted intention to run for president. He’s a master of self-promotion whose greatest achievement is branding and selling at bargain-rates a watered-down concept of his own billionaire lifestyle to a fame-obsessed and money-hungry American public. Trump is the ultimate proof of the idea that if you tell lies as frequently as possible, people will eventually believe they are true. As the eleventh season of The Celebrity Apprentice comes to a close, we decided to fact-check a number of his ridiculous claims, from his continual assertion that “The Apprentice is the no. 1 show on NBC” to Trump University.

The Celebrity Apprentice is the no. 1 show on NBC.” Um, no. Despite all the hype surrounding the eleventh cycle of Trump’s faux job-hunting competition — from his threatened presidential bid to the “birther” controversy to The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump to  the Gary Busey/Meat Loaf and Star Jones/NeNe Leakes feuds to vaguely erotic voicemail — The Celebrity Apprentice isn’t no. 1 in anything. Not in the 18-49 demographic, certainly not in total viewers. It’s no longer even NBC’s highest-rated reality competition; that distinction now belongs to The Voice. In total viewers this season, The Celebrity Apprentice been regularly bested by Harry’s Law (no. 1 on NBC, no. 20 overall), The Voice (no. 2 on NBC, no. 25 overall) and Law & Order: SVU (no. 3 on NBC, no. 44 overall). The Celebrity Apprentice ranks fourth in total viewers on NBC, with an average of 8.8 million people tuning in every week. In the coveted 18-49 demographic, it places third behind The Voice and The Office. Have there been individual weeks when a lack of competition has resulted in The Celebrity Apprentice ranking no. 1 on NBC? Sure. But the franchise hasn’t been NBC’s season-long top draw since the second cycle way back in the fall of 2004 when it was in fact NBC’s no. 1 series in both the 18-49 demo and total viewers for the ’04-’05 season. It’s been in decline ever since. Sorry, NBC, but your ratings savior won’t come courtesy of a comb-over.

Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles is “the most popular golf course in California.” Trump recently declared on The Celebrity Apprentice that his L.A. golf club is the most popular in the Golden State. Now, it’s hard to know what empirical statistics Trump is relying on to determine his course’s “popularity.” Most likely none. We asked Golf Magazine (which, like EW, is owned by Time Inc.) senior editor Joe Passov to weigh in on whether Trump’s claim can be validated by any objective standards. “There’s basically no way to dispute Trump’s claim about his course being ‘most popular’ since it’s absolutely subjective,” Passov says. “It definitely does not host the most rounds, nor is it the highest-ranked, among any of the major publications that do credible ranks.” To add insult to injury, he adds, “The only source I’ve ever seen for golf that provides a numerical posting for ‘popularity’ is the Zagat Survey. In Zagat’s most recent print version from two years ago, Trump’s L.A. club was nowhere close — not in the Top 40 “Most Popular” courses — and Trump was good friends with Tim and Nina Zagat!”

Golf Digest is a little more generous, ranking his course as California’s 32nd best on a list topped by Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. It’s also important to note that Trump’s isn’t a private club. It’s merely another example of the mass-market luxury — devoid of any exclusivity — that Trump peddles to give ordinary folks a fleeting, superficial taste of the good life.

Trump Ice is the “purest” bottled water. Yes, Trump has his own brand of bottled water, which you can guzzle at any of his hotels and casinos. But he claims on the label — next to his grinning mug — that it’s “one of the highest quality spring waters in the world with an optimum mineral content.” Au contraire says Michael Mascha, publisher of the website FineWaters and author of A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters. His research indicates that the mineral content of Trump Ice is actually “very low.” It asks a premium “for the image on the bottle rather than focusing on the water and the source.” Also, the fact that it comes in a plastic bottle as opposed to glass indicates that it is definitely not a luxury item.

“I have never been bankrupt.” We’ll give you this one, Donald. Sure, you’ve never had to declare bankruptcy yourself, even if many of your companies and real estate properties have defaulted on debt payments and been forced to seek court-assisted restructuring.

Donald Trump’s Atlantic City casinos have filed for bankruptcy three times. The latest, in 2009, resulted in Trump’s resignation as Chairman of the Board of Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings. In fact, he has no real tie to the three Jersey Shore casinos that bear his name — other than a desire on the part of its current management to keep the “Trump” name licensed, under the belief that Trump is luxury personified.

He did at one time claim ownership over the properties, but after he financed his $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in 1989 with high-interest junk bonds, his gaming business was brought to bankruptcy. His lenders and bond holders ended up losing hundreds of millions of dollars when he opted to file for Chapter 11 debt restructuring over honoring his original loans. The Taj Mahal did emerge from bankruptcy in 1991, but with Trump ceding 50 percent of the casino’s ownership to his debt holders, in exchange for more time to pay off his original principal with a much lowered interest rate. That said, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts never successfully paid down its debt, and by October 2004, it filed for Chapter 11 again, a plan that called for Trump to reduce his ownership from 56 percent to 27 percent. He resigned as CEO but stayed on as Chairman of the Board. When the company reemerged from bankruptcy in May 2005, it renamed itself Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings.

But that wasn’t the end of Trump’s casino nightmare. When Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy in 2009 in the wake of the economic collapse, he gave up his chairmanship, his $2 million salary (which he was owed, he told NBC Nightly News, because of his “genius”), and any claim to those casinos other than naming rights, once again leaving his creditors high and dry. Like so many leaders of failing companies in the wake of the financial collapse, Trump sought to protect himself at the expense of his failing businesses.

“Trump” properties. Some of the properties that bear the Trump name aren’t even owned by The Donald. He has licensed his name, on the idea that it’s synonymous with status and luxury, to other real-estate developers, including the group behind the failed Trump Tower in Tampa, Fla., a high-profile condominium project that took deposits of $45,000 or more from would-be apartment owners … then never built the building. Oh, and without returning the deposits. One such deposit-holder, Elaine Lucadano, is part of an ongoing lawsuit against Trump for alleged misleading business practices. “Donald Trump left us high and dry,” Lucadano claims. “He misled us into thinking that he was a partner in this project when in fact he was a licensure.” Trump disputes the allegations, blames the real-estate downturn for the project never getting off the ground, and claims that the would-be apartment owners understood the risk of a deposit.

Trump “University” So, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t just call a series of seminars a “University” if you have no accreditation to issue degrees. That’s exactly what the Donald did with Trump University, a business lecture and workshop program that he promised would “teach you better than the business schools are going to teach you.” He even would charge attendees up to $35,000 to participate — the equivalent of tuition at a high-end private university. But New York state regulators issued Trump an order to “Immediately cease from any further use of the word ‘University,'” claiming that his use of the word was “misleading and even illegal.” Also, the Texas attorney general’s office began an investigation into Trump U for alleged deceptive trade practices — an inquiry that was dropped after Trump stopped holding seminars in the state. Trump University has since been rebranded the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, to ensnare would-be tycoons with dreams of gaudy wealth under more legal terms.

Donald Trump, your credibility is fired.

Comments (149 total) Add your comment
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  • Dgently

    You borrow extensively from last week’s New York Times. You should credit that publication.

    • Mephysto

      Actually, CNN already did this on their website about a month ago. So yeah, nothing new. Anyway, back to my bunker, to await the return of our Lor.. What? That’s done too? Oh H E L L!

      • Max

        He might be a fake weirdo but he has one thing to his credit which cancels out pretty much every misdeed – he sired the incredible Ivanka.

      • JMB in FL

        @Max: I’m pretty sure the credit for Ivanka should go mostly to her mother. Trump looks like a pig, acts like a pig, sounds like a pig…hmmm.

    • Sam J

      He also claimed his private investigators found something “HUGE” in Hawaii while investigating Obama. Confirmation of US birth, maybe?

      • Sam J

        I shoulda read the first paragraph before posting. That was a “Trump” move wasn’t it?

      • TorontoTom

        Excuse me, it’s pronoiunced ‘UGE.

      • Matt

        Everyone knows that birth certificate was a fraud. Anyone who rags him is, although they will never admit it, jealous. I will outright admit it I’m jealous of his money and lifestyle. I never understand people and oh the media even more, who feel the need to hate and belittle people who are an extreme success.

      • Matt

        Everyone knows that is a produced birth certificate. The anointed one had to do something so he gave orders. Everyone that trashed and belittles Trump will never admit it but it is jealousy. I will come right out in front of all of you and God I am jealous of his money and lifestyle. I don’t understand people and especially the media in this country, the country I love. They feel the need to attempt to knock down, ridicule and mock people that are an extreme success. Like I said I feel its jealousy but also with the media its an attempt to win people over by “showing” they are one of them, the regular joes. Admire don’t stoop to that level. Whether you morally agree with their beliefs don’t flash out of jealousy.

      • RogerFederer

        Probably the soul mate to his hair pet.

      • Squishmar

        You can’t be serious, Matt. I would take having a soul and a high IQ over having his “money and lifestyle” any day. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone that I could possibly envy less. I actually almost pity him because he is so oblivious about his complete and utter foolishness and idiocy. He truly believes his own hype and it’s very sad.

    • Tomi

      All of it is public record.

      • Matt

        Public record created and ordered by the anointed one. If it was such an open record why did it take years? He is the ultimate polittician and talker which equates to fake….. ok I will say it a liar. A final note, I am NOT one of those conspiracy people but this quite obvious. I honestly wish, although I agree with him, I wish Trump didn’t push it. I feel that because it is easy for the anointed one to ridicule the allegations and Trump. I knew Trump was not running for president but pray a formidable opponent steps forward to take Obama. Right now I’m starting to follow Herman Cain. If I don’t have his name don’t jump on me for that. I have recently been introduced to him and his beliefs and so far I see him as that opponent. Obviously color of skin doesn’t mean anything to me it is the issues. However I always wondered why doesn’t Obama publicly profess he is half black. I feel for his mother and grandmother that raised him. Herman would be our first black president. Now you guess what race.I am.

      • @Matt

        Obama produced his birth certificate in 2008. He filled out the same forms as everyone else who was born in Hawaii. He was issued the type of birth certificate issued to everyone born in Hawaii. The Governor of Hawaii at that time, and the then head of the agency that issues birth certificates, the Health Department, both confirmed it as a valid birth certificate. And they were both Republicans. The birthers demanded a type of birth certificate that Hawaii no longer issues. The only thing Obama did this year was to convince the state of Hawaii to issue him one in the old style. Of course, now people are saying it’s fake. That’s because they don’t want to believe it, and never will believe anything that confirms Obama is a natural born American.
        BTW, Obama went to Ireland and visited where his white ancestors are from. He doesn’t deny his white ancestry.

      • EKW

        When you spew complete BS – ie Obama doesn’t publicly profess he is half black – you lose all of your credibility. Is he supposed to shove something as irrelevant to his ability to lead as his race down our throats? It was well known to anyone who followed him during the launch of his 2008 election campaign that his mother is white and father black; his autobiography The Audacity of Hope largely touched on his biracial and bicultural upbringing. But you wouldn’t know that, would you, because you are stuck in a hole where whatever you want to believe is the truth.

      • Squishmar

        Matt… I think your race is Morlock… like the creatures in “The Time Machine” that live underground and prey on the Eloi.

        And you keep saying “anointed one,” I think the actual phrase you are looking for is “elected one.”

  • Ktct

    If nothing else, please tell me his hair is real!

    • Daniel

      It’s real.

      It’s just not his. transplant implant, you get the picture.

    • Jean Guy Levesque

      No wig or hair piece could ever be as UGLY as Trump’s hair!! Vive la Quebec!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ma’at

    -Just another TeaBagging fool. Roaches all.

  • Maggie Goodale

    Did anyone see the donald trump roast. Marley Matlin just happens to be one of the comedians and at one point says what a great boss donald trump is. Did they give away the finale?!!!

    • Woot

      Aren’t the finales live?

      • Woot

        The announcement of the winner at least.

      • Matt

        Yes they are. The task isn’t but the appointment of the winner is.

    • Bren

      Maybe so. Like last year, when Trump made a comment about Bret Michaels being a great champion while he was in the hospital because of that brain hemmorrhage. What a surprise when a week or two later at the finals, it was Bret who won.

    • Javadude54

      Marley Matlin isn’t a comedian.

      • Casey

        Not everyone who does roasts is a comedian.

      • Woot

        Larry King isn’t a comedian either…

      • Steve

        And her name isn’t “Marley.”

  • Katie G

    Trump is such a d-bag.

    • Matt

      And you a slimy jealous….. you finish the sentence.

      • RogerFederer

        Shut up Matt. Go write a love letter to your new BFF Herman Cain. Wow you really aren’t racist. What a moron!

  • Blackshark

    He is a legend in his own mind

    • Jean Guy Levesque

      He is a legend to LOSERS in America who love to brown nose celebrities. Vive la Quebec!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Matt

        You aren’t even American get the hell out of here.

      • Sara

        he also isn’t even french canadian or he would know is Vive le Quebec not la. and you matt sound a lot like the hateful nanya who tells everyone that EW is only for americans on GOT recaps

    • Matt

      And in yours but you’re too jealous to admit it and its easier to trash him.

  • ron swanson

    Prepare for Trump to threaten to sue you over this.

    • Lois

      He can’t sue when it’s the truth. It’s all been reported in other places and Trump hasn’t sued any of them.

      • ron swanson

        Trump’s favorite thing to do is threaten to sue people for things he claims to be false. Remember his feud with Rosie?

        Note that threatening to sue is different than actually suing.

  • fiona

    Trump would lie through his teeth to cut a deal or save his azz. His cutthroat approach to business lacks class or finesse and, instead, smacks simply of intimidation (Trump’s special blend of arrogance and brow-beating) of any sucker who wanders into the radar with a wad of cash.

    • Matt

      Tell us all about the time you sat at the business table with him. What exactly did he say to you personally. Share this with us please. Thanks I will be waiting.

      • Brian

        Matt, you seem to comment on every post. Why don’t you get out of you moms’ basement and get a job?? Maybe you will get a real world prospective on life.

      • EKW

        I may not have sat down to talk business with him but I have had the the pleasure of understanding his nature via his overly exposed public persona, ie Celebrity Apprentice and FOX news interviews. I’d say most people with opinions here have a decent idea of his character – that’s what happens when you make your life public. What also happens, if you’re an idiot, is you put your foot in your mouth and offend a ton of people while you’re at it. Obama wasn’t born here, hell he didn’t even deserve to get into Harvard! He was just stirring up the fervor for all you people with blind allegiance to the Republican party. What an ass.

  • jt

    He IS a Republican. Will definitely continue their tradition of continual and outrageous lies.

    • ron swanson

      To be fair, Trump has given more money to Dems than Republicans. I think he was just a Republican now because it was convenient for his publicity machine.

      • Squishmar

        I think he was actually a double agent for the Democrats to make the Republicans look ridiculous.


    Thanks for the up, Christian.


    I enjoyed watching THE APPRENTICE (not The Celebrity Apprentice). The man may have come out as so full of himself, but he’s sure a powerful man.


    As for the hair, I don’t think it’s an implant; it looked quite bad and unfashionable. Too bad to be the end-product of the supposedly first-class American hair implant. It simply looked like the hair was pulled from both sides and strategically fashioned so that it would cover the entire middle area of the popular male-pattern baldness; what’s more, it looked too thin for the implant, IMO.

    • Squishmar

      Yes, Hiroshi… the word you’re looking for is “COMB-OVER.” A very intricate and ornate comb-over.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t understand people. I remember a time (waaaay back in the day) when the Donald was actually pretty well respected. What happened?! I don’t understand why someone would give up being respected to be a media punchline, especially when you don’t NEED to be famous? As in being rich and already pretty well known. If someone has an answer, I would love to hear it.

    • Katherine4254

      When Donald’s properties and stocks were going down, he needed to up his own ante a bit. So he put himself on tv and started this shameless self promotion. More recently, he’s opened his mouth and has spoken with such blatant ignorance that he’s made himself a fool. I have a theory that he pushed the “birther” thing so hard to make himself look far too extreme for most republicans. Now, even Sarah Palin looks more competent, giving the GOP a better chance of a run against Obama.

    • L.T.

      When your house is burning you shout at the top of your lungs so find rescuers. When your supposed empire is threatened or in the verge of collapse, you promote it to the MAX in the hope of bringing in more lazy suckers with money……

    • Matt

      Read my comments about, he’s got money so he’s easy to attack. He wasn’t running for president I know that but I genuinely feel he sees Obama for what he is and would like to provide change. Obviously someone in business worth that amount of money can’t run and have all personal information disclosed. But I do is killing him when he sees all the.time other countries like China and Mexico laughing on how they rule business with us and what they get away with. I agree with Trump tax them to acquire needed money for the deficit not the fax payers because don’t about you but I have no more to give. To sum up your question you are seeing the perception created by the liberal media.

      • EKW

        Want to know why we are in debt to China? Because we borrow from them without paying back. Because American corporations would rather use cheap Chinese and Mexican labor than hire at home. Because China is the world’s largest manufacturer and Americans buy things while living on credit. Because we consume more oil than any other country and are paying the price for it now (hence the borrowing from China). Trump’s world view is completely self-indulging, it does not follow fact in any sense of the word. We can’t blame others for mistakes that we have been making for decades. Really genius idea – let’s tax the residents of other countries. Why do you think our government is entitled to their money and not ours? Just as moronic a concept as Trump’s idea to march over to OPEC and demand they give us oil. Really brilliant.

    • ron swanson

      One word: Money. He can never have enough.

      He also likes being a pop culture celebrity character, clearly.

    • @Stephanie

      Trump currently owns only 10% of The Trump Organization, and lost the rights to his own name. He needs the money from the TV show, as well as the celebrity it brings him. He makes money from books sakes, speeches and appearances, so he needs to keep himself on TV to keep himself a current celebrity.

      • Squishmar

        He has made himself a ‘brand.’ Unfortunately, every time he opens his mouth lately, he cheapens that brand.

  • Realangst

    Well, he claims he’s going to announce his run for the Presidency at the conclusion of Celebrity Apprentice. We all wait with baited breath. Then NBC says they will replace him and voila, the Donald isn’t running for President after all. But then I see these reports about his business practices and I think, maybe it wasn’t his ego responding to being replaced by NBC but the revelations like these that would totally bring him down as a candidate and he couldn’t have that.

    • Gretchen

      You do realize he’s already said he’s M
      NOT running at NBC’s upfronts, right??

  • Ryan

    At least he doesn’t think there are 57 states.

    • ron swanson

      ^^ This.

    • Dicazi

      And it was the first Pres Bush that called June 7th “the day that will live in infamy” in a speech. And he was IN that war.

  • Dianne

    Great post, Christian!

  • Jonathan

    What I can’t understand is why FORBES lists Trump as having 2.5 billion dollars. Based on what? It is obvious he has very few assets and LOTS of liabilities. So how does FORBES get their figures? I guess they just called Donald and asked him. Hey FORBES give me a call I’m worth 10 umm 15 lets just make it an even 100 billion. Proof? I told you..what MORE could they want….

    • L.T.

      @ Jonathan All his assets are real but his liabilities are not ties to his REAL assets….Sort of if you owe the bank one hundred dollars you better find a way to pay it…but if you owe the bank several million dollars …the bank better find a way to cover the ‘loss’

      • Matt

        Share with us please the history of when you worked in Trumps’s personal accounting office. Give us the inside scoop, the particulars, all the information you got first hand to back your accusations. Don’t tell us what you read from the left biased media but the real dirt, the first hand personal information you obtained when you were on his payroll. Looking forward to it….

      • JL

        Oh my God, do you just troll around defending this guy? Or did someone pee in your Cheerios this morning?

      • Squishmar

        Matt desperately wants to hear the words, “You’re hired!” by his beloved Donald.

    • @Jonathan

      Forbes asks people how much they’re worth. If they refuse to answer, they guess. Forbes calls Trump a billionaire because he told them he is. They don’t make people prove it.

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