In 1988, shortly after I was promoted to president of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, he invited me up to New York for lunch. There was a lot to talk over one issue in particular: one of our senior managers, who happened to be African-American. Donald considered him incompetent and wanted him fired. When I acknowledged some shortcomings in the man’s performance, he instantly became enthused. “Yeah, I never liked the guy,” he said. “And isn’t it funny, I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
I was mortified. We were in a restaurant in Trump Tower. I worried he’d be overheard. But he went on, “Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else: I think the guy is lazy, and it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”
Then, eyeing me closely, he said, “Don’t you agree?”
When I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not, he swiped aside my objections with a chop of his hand. “Ah, it’s a trait,” he said.