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Donald Trump: From NYC Businessman to Presidential Candidate

  • VOA News

Donald Trump formally accepts his party's nomination at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016.

Donald Trump formally accepts his party's nomination at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016.

Heir to a real-estate fortune, billionaire, tabloid fodder, reality TV star and now the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Donald Trump has amassed a fortune building office towers, hotels, casinos, golf courses and other branded facilities worldwide. He is also the chairman and president of the Trump Organization, a holding company for his real estate ventures and other business interests.

Born in the New York City borough of Queens, Trump grew up in the wealthy neighborhood of Jamaica Estates. He was the fourth of five children. His father, Fred Trump, was a real estate developer with an authoritarian style -- one that he passed down to his ambitious son.

Sets sights on Manhattan

In 1968, Donald Trump graduated from the prestigious Wharton School of Finance. With his father involved in building projects in Brooklyn and Queens, Donald Trump set his sights on Manhattan.

Watch: Trump — ‘Making America Great Again’ by Running for President

It was a difficult time to work across the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, where crime rates were high and the city's outlook was bleak. But the younger Trump had cultivated business contacts through his father. With that support, Trump has said he set up his own company with a $1 million investment.

In the 1970s, the Justice Department accused the Trump organization of violating the Fair Housing Act, by preventing minorities from renting in his buildings. Donald Trump settled the case out of court.

Later, in a major move, Trump bought a bankrupt hotel next to Grand Central Station, borrowed more than $70 million and negotiated tax incentives from the city for the newly named Grand Hyatt Hotel.

He's perhaps best known for the Trump Tower, a $200 million apartment and retail facility, with a pink marble-lined, six-level atrium, 58 floors and an 18-meter waterfall.

Trump also is known for building casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. First, Trump Plaza. Then Trump Castle. Then the Taj Mahal, costing nearly $1 billion. But it eventually went bankrupt.

When the real estate market crashed in 1990, the value of his empire dropped from $1.7 billion to $500 million. He borrowed money and found new investors to avoid bankruptcy.

FILE - Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump watch him speak during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Oct. 31, 2016.

FILE - Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump watch him speak during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Oct. 31, 2016.

But he could not avoid a divorce. "The Donald," as he would come to be known in the media, divorced his first wife, Ivana, with whom he had three children. He married and later divorced Marla Maples. Trump married his current wife, Slovenian model Melania, in 2005.

His reality TV show The Apprentice made Trump a star. Contestants competed to be managers in Trump's empire. Those who failed were targeted with Trump's signature line: "You're fired."

The show earned Trump more than $200 million.

Political aspirations

Trump first publicly showed interest in politics in the late '80s. He joined the Reform Party, then the Democratic Party, and then became an independent. In 2012, he declared as a Republican, vowing to "make our country great again." He chose Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Candidate Trump became known for controversial statements, blaming Mexican immigrants for bringing drugs and other problems to the United States.

His controversial solution: Build a wall at the U.S. border, and make Mexico pay for it.

More controversy followed as Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. following a mass shooting in California. Yet, his support grew among Republicans, who say they count on Trump to create more jobs and opportunities for everyday Americans.

Americans agree this is a presidential election like none other.

In the political ring -- a colorful, controversial Trump vs. former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton. It's a match that no one saw coming.

In Photos: Donald Trump through the years

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