Trump: The Art of the Deal

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The Art of the Deal
Trump the art of the deal.jpg
AuthorDonald J. Trump
Tony Schwartz
CountryUnited States
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
November 1, 1987
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
Followed byTrump: Surviving at the Top (1990) 

Trump: The Art of the Deal is a 1987 book credited to Donald J. Trump and journalist Tony Schwartz. Part memoir and part business-advice book, it was the first book credited to Trump,[1] and helped to make him a "household name".[2][3] It reached number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, stayed there for 13 weeks, and altogether held a position on the list for 48 weeks.[4] The book received additional attention during Trump's 2016 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Trump cited it as one of his proudest accomplishments and his second-favorite book after the Bible.[5][6]

Schwartz called writing the book his "greatest regret in life, without question," and both he and the book's publisher, Howard Kaminsky, said that Trump had played no role in the actual writing of the book. Trump has personally given conflicting accounts on the question of authorship.[4][7] Schwartz later suggested that the work be "recategorized as fiction".[8]


The book talks about Trump's childhood in Jamaica Estates, Queens. It then describes his early work in Brooklyn prior to moving to Manhattan and building The Trump Organization, his actions and thoughts in developing the Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Tower, in renovating Wollman Rink, and regarding various other projects.[9] The book also contains an 11-step formula for business success, inspired by Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking.[10]


Trump was persuaded to produce the book by Condé Nast owner Si Newhouse after the May 1984 issue of Newhouse's magazine GQ – with Trump appearing on the cover – sold well.[10][11] Schwartz was hired for $250,000 upfront and assigned half the royalties to write the book.[12]

According to Schwartz in July 2016, Trump didn't write any of the book, choosing only to remove a few critical mentions of business colleagues at the end of the process. Trump responded with conflicting stories, saying "I had a lot of choice of who to have write the book, and I chose Schwartz", but then said "Schwartz didn't write the book. I wrote the book." Former Random House head Howard Kaminsky, the book's original publisher, said "Trump didn’t write a postcard for us!"[4] The book was published in November 1987 by Random House, with the authorship given as "Donald Trump with Tony Schwartz".

Schwartz was the subject of a July 2016 article in The New Yorker in which Schwartz describes Donald Trump unfavorably and relates how he came to regret writing The Art of the Deal.[4] He also stated that if it were to be written today it would be very different and titled The Sociopath.[4] Schwartz repeated his self-criticism on Good Morning America, saying he had "put lipstick on a pig."[13] In response to these claims, Trump's attorneys have demanded that Schwartz cede all his royalties from the book to Trump.[14][15]


The Art of the Deal was published in November 1987 by Random House. A promotional campaign was undertaken in conjunction with the release of the book. This included Trump holding a release party at Trump Tower that was hosted by Jackie Mason and featured a celebrity-filled guest list.[10] There were a series of appearances by him on television talk shows.[16] Trump also appeared on a number of magazine covers as part of publicity for the book.[16]

Excerpts from the book were published in New York magazine. The book has been translated into over a dozen languages.[10]


Trump and Schwartz had an agreement to split royalties from the book on a 50–50 basis.[17][18]

In 1988, Trump set up the Donald J. Trump Foundation to give away royalties from the book's sales, in Trump's words, promising four or five million dollars "to the homeless, to Vietnam veterans, for AIDS, multiple sclerosis."[17][18] According to a Washington Post investigation those promised donations largely failed to materialise; the paper said "he gave less to those causes than he did to his older daughter's ballet school."[18] The Washington Post asked the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign if Trump had donated the $55,000 of royalties that Trump had earned from the book in the first six months of 2016 to charity, as he promised in the 1980s, and it did not respond.[19]

By 2016, Schwartz said he had received some $1.6 million in royalty payments.[17] In October of that year, Schwartz said the royalties he was still receiving for the book "suddenly became, for me, blood money. I didn't want to be anywhere near it. It just feels wrong."[19] As a result, Schwartz said he would be donating the previous six months of royalties (worth $55,000) to the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for immigrants to remain in the United States regardless whether or not their entry was legal. Schwartz had earlier donated royalties he received in the second half of 2015, worth $25,000, to a number of charities including the National Immigration Forum. Schwartz said he wanted to help the people Trump was attacking.[19]

Financial disclosures by Trump for 2018 revealed the book earned over $1 million for the year, and it was the only title of his dozen-plus authored books that made money.[20] Trump's financial disclosures for 2019 reported royalties for The Art of the Deal in the $100,000 to $1 million range.[21]

Book sales[edit]

Precise figures for the number of copies sold of The Art of the Deal are not available because its publication preceded the Nielsen BookScan era.[16] It had a first printing of 150,000 copies. Several magazine and book accounts state that it sold over 1 million hardcover copies[10] or 1 million copies.[4][22] A 2016 CBS News investigation reported that an unnamed source familiar with the book's sales placed the figure at 1.1 million copies sold.[17]

Trump said in his 2016 presidential run that The Art of the Deal is "the No. 1 selling business book of all time." An analysis by PolitiFact found that other business books sold many more copies than The Art of the Deal. While it was impossible to find exact sales figures, a range of possibilities based on known claims and facts were given, and when compared to six other famous business books, The Art of the Deal ranked in fifth place according to the analysis; the first place book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, outsold it by a factor of 15 times.[16]

Reception and legacy[edit]

At the time of publication, Publishers Weekly called it a "boastful, boyishly disarming, thoroughly engaging personal history".[23] People magazine gave it a mixed review.[1]

In 1988, Trump and Ted Turner announced plans for a television film based on the book.[24] The plans had been largely abandoned by 1991.[25]

Three years later, journalist John Tierney noted Trump "appears to have ignored some of his own advice" in the book due to "well-publicized problems with his banks."[26] Trump's self-promotion, best-selling book and media celebrity status led one commentator in 2006 to call him "a poster-child for the 'greed is good' 1980s."[27] (The phrase "Greed is good" was from the movie Wall Street, which was released a month after The Art of the Deal.)

Jim Geraghty in the National Review said in 2015 that the book showed "a much softer, warmer, and probably happier figure than the man dominating the airwaves today."[5]

John Paul Rollert, an ethicist writing about the book in The Atlantic in 2016, says Trump sees capitalism not as an economic system but a morality play.[28]

The book coined the phrase "truthful hyperbole" describing "an innocent form of exaggeration—and... a very effective form of promotion." Schwartz said Trump loved that phrase.[29][30] In January 2017, the phrase was noted for its similarity to the phrase "alternative facts" coined by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway when she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's widely derided statements about the attendance at Trump's inauguration as President of the United States.[31][32][33]

Aspects of the book were used as the basis for the 2016 parody film, Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie.[34]

Based on Trump's tax returns between 1985 and 1994 which showed a loss greater than "nearly any other individual American taxpayer" during that period,[35] co-author Schwartz suggested that the book might be "recategorized as fiction".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ralph Novak (February 29, 1988). "Picks and Pans Review: Trump: the Art of the Deal". People. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Bernstein, Robert (2016). Speaking Freely: My Life in Publishing and Human Rights. The New Press.
  3. ^ Ligman, Kyle (2016-05-18). "The Trump of Magazines Past". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mayer, Jane (July 25, 2016). "Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Jim Geraghty (September 24, 2015). "In The Art of the Deal, Trump Shows His Soft Side". The National Review. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "Donald Trump reveals his favorite book". MSNBC. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  7. ^ Zuckerman, Alex; Farhi, Arden (2019-05-24). "Trump's ghostwriter says writing "The Art of the Deal" is the greatest regret of his life". CBS News. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  8. ^ a b "Trump Ghostwriter Suggests 'The Art Of The Deal' Be Recategorized As Fiction". Huffington Post. May 8, 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  9. ^ Trump: The Art of the Deal Paperback
  10. ^ a b c d e Timothy L. O'Brien (2005). TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald. Grand Central Publishing. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9780759514669. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  11. ^ GQ. May 1984. Success Issue. Donald Trump, Sandra Bernhard, Bobby Short.
  12. ^ Zuckerman, Alex; Farhi, Arden (May 24, 2019). "Trump's ghostwriter calls "Art of the Deal" the greatest regret of his life". CBS News. Retrieved 2019-05-24 – via MSN.
  13. ^ Winsor, Morgan (July 18, 2016). "Tony Schwartz, Co-Author of Donald Trump's 'The Art of the Deal,' Says Trump Presidency Would Be 'Terrifying'". ABC News. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  14. ^ Fandos, Nicholas (2016-07-21). "Trump Lawyer Sends 'Art of the Deal' Ghostwriter a Cease-and-Desist Letter". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  15. ^ "Donald Trump Threatens the Ghostwriter of 'The Art of the Deal'". The New Yorker. 2016-07-21. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  16. ^ a b c d Linda Qiu (July 6, 2015). "Is Donald Trump's Art of the Deal the best-selling business book of all time?". PolitiFact. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  17. ^ a b c d "Donald Trump book royalties to charity? A mixed bag". CBS News. August 11, 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  18. ^ a b c Farenthold, David A. (June 28, 2016). "Trump promised millions to charity. We found less than $10,000 over 7 years". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  19. ^ a b c David A. Fahrenthold (October 4, 2016). "Trump's co-author on 'The Art of the Deal' donates $55,000 royalty check to charity". Washington Post. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  20. ^ Katie Galioto, Theodoric Meyer, Andrew Restuccia, and Nancy Cook (May 16, 2019). "Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort took a financial hit last year; 'The Art of the Deal' continues to make money, but the president's dozen-plus other books brought in next to nothing — $201 or less". Retrieved May 16, 2019.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  21. ^ Vasquez, Maegan; Liptak, Kevin (August 1, 2020). "Trump releases 2019 financial disclosure report". CNN. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  22. ^ "Donald Trump's core business philosophy from his bestselling 1987 book 'The Art of the Deal'". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Trump: The Art of the Deal". Publishers Weekly. December 1987. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  24. ^ "Turner And Trump Team Up For A Film". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Turner's Trump movie is on hold". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  26. ^ John Tierney (March 6, 1991). "'Art of the Deal,' Scaled-Back Edition". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  27. ^ James Brian McPherson (2006). Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-present. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 101. ISBN 9780313317804. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  28. ^ John Paul Rollert (March 30, 2016). "An Ethicist Reads The Art of the Deal". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  29. ^ Mayer, Jane (25 July 2016). "Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All". The New Yorker. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  30. ^ Page, Clarence (January 24, 2017). "Column: 'Alternative facts' play to Americans' fantasies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  31. ^ Micek, John L. (22 January 2017). "Memo to Kellyanne Conway, there is no such thing as 'alternative facts': John L. Micek". Penn Live. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  32. ^ Page, Clarence (24 January 2017). "'Alternative facts' play to Americans' fantasies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  33. ^ Werner, Erica. "GOP Congress grapples with Trump's 'alternative facts'". The Detroit Press. Associated Press.
  34. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (February 10, 2016). "Funny or Die 'Donald Trump' filmmakers talk about making the viral parody with Johnny Depp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  35. ^ Buettner, Russ; Craig, Susanne (7 May 2019). "Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2019.