Sunday, November 28, 2004

Thankgiving of the Moguls

In this Sunday's NYT Magazine, The Donald responds to Richard Branson's multiple disses in his Deborah Solomon's Q+A last week. An excerpt from the Branson piece:

So, basically, it's an ad campaign for Virgin Domestic, your new airline for the American market. How can it possibly prosper when most American airlines are on the verge of bankruptcy?

The service offered by American, Delta and United is abysmal. They treat people like cattle. The difference between Virgin and the other airlines is like the difference between Donald Trump and me, or chalk and cheese.

Speaking of Trump, it seems fair to liken your new show to his ''Apprentice,'' which also entices contestants with the promise of a plum job.

But the shows are so different! His is based in an office. I never spend any time in an office. And none of my companies have ever gone bankrupt.

Have you met the Donald?

I had dinner with him three or four years ago in New York. He has a list of the most important things you need in order to be successful in business, and I don't agree with any of them. He says you mustn't shake someone's hand because you might catch a cold someday. That is not my approach.

And now, we have Trump's riposte:

Your questions for Richard Branson failed to mention any of his numerous failures, including cola, cellphones and soon, I predict, his excursion into the world of railroads (Deborah Solomon, Nov. 7). After years of trying, he couldn't even circle the globe in his wonderful balloon. Also, I find it hard to believe that anybody in the airline business is, in fact, a billionaire.

Since your feature appeared, Richard Branson's reality show, "Rebel Billionaire," has opened to minuscule ratings, even lower than Mark Cuban's failed attempt at knocking off me and my show. In the meantime, "The Apprentice" continues to bring in top ratings, and I am having fun on all fronts, especially beating my copycat rivals.
Donald J. Trump
New York

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