Who better than an ex-wife to set the record straight about a presidential candidate? Before Dennis Basso’s show Tuesday at Moynihan Station, Ivana Trump pegged “The Donald” as a winner and said she actually gave him the nickname.
This story first appeared in the September 16, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With three children — Donald, Ivanka and Eric — and what was a 35-year marriage until their 1992 divorce, the Trumps would appear to have supportive roles in each others’ lives, at least based on the first Mrs. Trump’s account. (The presidential candidate is now married to his third wife, Melania, and his daughter Tiffany by his second wife, Marla Maples, was also at the Basso show.)
Ivana Trump, a former Czechoslovakian skier, isn’t offering her ex any pointers for his political fight. “We speak, but he does what he wants to do. But he can handle it,” she said. “I don’t really offer advice. He’s doing his own thing. Nobody can tell him anything.”
She is banking on the former host of “The Apprentice” to be victorious come November. “I think he can win, because he would run the country as a businessman. The country has to be run as a business, and he can make decisions,” Ivana Trump said. “And if he knows or doesn’t know who is the head of the courts, that doesn’t really make any difference. He learns very fast when he wants to.”
As for why the GOP 2016 frontrunner has such appeal with Americans, Trump said, “He’s different. He says it as it is. He doesn’t bulls–t the people.”
While the mud-slinging between Trump, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and their fellow Republicans will no doubt get worse at Wednesday’s Jake Tapper-moderated debate, Trump’s ex-wife said there isn’t really any dirt, or anything else about The Donald to be unearthed. Asked what people might be surprised to learn about him, Ivana Trump said, “Nothing really. Everything was always in the open air, so there is nothing you can discover. He’s the smartest man I know, that’s for sure. And he’s just Donald — ‘The Donald,’ which is the name I gave him.”
Translation? “It was about 30 years ago. I didn’t speak proper English, so in front of everything that I thought was important, I put ‘the,'” she said with a laugh. “It caught on and it was in newspapers. People started using it all the time.” (The nickname no doubt resurfaced in tabloids’ coverage of his 1993 divorce from his second wife.)
But Ivana Trump said his professional success stems from the basics. “He’s just very smart and very hardworking. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t take a drug — that’s for sure,” Trump said. “And all my kids are the same. They’re hardworking, motivated, they love to work and like to achieve. He’s a visionary.”
Keeping sleep to a minimum helps, too. “He sleeps only four, five hours a night. Do you know how much time a week you save if you only sleep five hours instead of eight hours? It’s three times seven, 21 hours. You have almost one extra day,” Ivana Trump said.
And she certainly isn’t losing any sleep, knowing that she could have possibly been the First Lady of the U.S. After gamely posing with a potato adorned to look like a pirate at an Instagrammer’s request, Trump said, “I really don’t think about it and I really don’t care. My life is good, as it is. I don’t want to disturb it.”