Trump understates his early wealth as much as he overstates his present wealth. He says when he started out he was worth “about $200,000” but he’s just burnishing his brand.
A son of a real estate mogul, he’s in no position to spin a “rags to riches” yarn. By saying he was worth $200,000 then and $10 billion now he can pose as a sort of a self-made guy who really does know the art of the deal.
But when he went into the family business, his dad had already built or acquired 14,000 New York City apartments. Lacking access to company records, no one can appraise their value with any precision, but anyone can do better than Trump. So here it is on the back of a napkin. In those days, city apartments sold for about $45 a square foot. Most Trump apartments were outside Manhattan, which lowers the price, but many were family units, which raises it back up some. A reasonable inflation adjusted estimate of their value back then approaches $3 billion. But New York real estate prices have since skyrocketed. If Trump had just paid down the mortgages and kept up the apartments, they’d be worth $8 billion today.
In other words if he’d done nothing at all he might now be worth what he says he’s worth.
Don’t just do something, sit there!