Donald Trump Grooms Kids for Success

ByABC News

Feb. 6, 2004 -- -- On his new hit TV series Donald Trump is searching for the best apprentice, but in real life, he's already chosen a few.

Trump's hit series, The Apprentice, has contestants trying to impress "The Donald" while competing for a job in the Trump organization. That won't be necessary for his three oldest kids, who are eager to inherit the family legacy.

The organization is the result of high-risk business ventures that have paid off handsomely for the brash businessman, putting Trump on top of the real estate world — literally. His home is a multistory penthouse at the very top of the Manhattan skyline.

Trump admits while raising kids in the penthouse it was impossible to avoid turning them into a bunch of spoiled brats.

"There's no question about that," he told 20/20's Barbara Walters with a laugh. "But, you know, they're basically good kids … And they've done very well. I've never been embarrassed by my children."

Enjoy an Allowance and Don't Drink

Trump's three children with his first wife Ivana — who are now young adults — grew up in the palatial penthouse with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and views of three states until their parents divorced in 1990 and the children moved out. Trump also has a fourth daughter, 10-year-old Tiffany, from his 1993-1999 marriage to Marla Maples.

The three oldest children told Walters they're quite normal, despite their famed upbringing.

"It's a difficult thing to navigate, and over time you learn to accept it," said Ivanka, 22. "He's raised us with values and tries to keep us as grounded as possible."

"I put them on an allowance at all times," said Trump. "And their mother [Ivana] was strict with them and a good mother. But they were always put on a very heavy regiment of discipline."

The mogul's namesake, Donald Jr., 26 and a Trump employee, said he was spoiled culturally and educationally but not financially.

"It was always very limited. If we wanted anything we always had to work for it," said Donald Jr. "I remember even my friends in college always joking that I'd have to borrow money from them to do laundry."

Trump claims he has never had an alcoholic drink or a cigarette in his life, and encourages his kids to avoid alcohol and cigarettes. When people ask Ivanka why she never went to wild parties there's a simple explanation: "I think the difference is we wouldn't be allowed to. [It's] really as simple as that."

"It's not an option for us," agreed Donald Jr.

Preparing for Careers Named Trump

While other kids might dream of growing up to pursue their own interests, the Trump kids are eager to get into the family business and work for their dad.

"He's really a role model. I definitely want to follow in his footsteps," said Eric, 20, to the delight of his father.

The three oldest Trump children were raised for the job, growing up on construction sites and following up with a business education at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Eric is a sophomore at Georgetown University with plans to also attend Wharton Business School, like his father and siblings.

Donald Jr., a Wharton graduate, is currently developing the organization's newest property in Manhattan — the prestigious Trump Park Avenue. Ivanka is now at Wharton with one year to go, following up her career as a high fashion model.

"I think it's prestigious to be a model," said Trump. "A lot of people disagree with me. Of course, a lot of people are those that could never go out with models. So, you know, it's one of those things."

With comments like that, his kids admit they too are often shocked by how Trump speaks. "In every way. You can't even describe it," said Eric.

"You make my day," his father retorted.

Eric hopes to eventually make his Dad's day, taking his company even further."He's really built a great foundation for us to build more on," said Eric. "With the four of us I think we have a great opportunity to take over the city."

Living Up to That Last Name

The Trump children are frank about their career ambitions and certainly have a lot to live up to with a last name synonymous with lush buildings.

They admit they have sometimes tried hiding their famous background.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't, especially when I was younger," said Donald Jr. "There were times where it was just — you didn't want to have to deal with everyone making those assumptions, however ignorant they may be."

Ivanka now takes it all in stride. "I used to be … on the defensive and sort of shield myself. But over time it's sort of stopped mattering to me," she said. "People will like me if they know me. Hopefully."

"Especially the men like her," said Trump. "Unfortunately."

Nepotism: A Bad Word?

To those on the outside, Trump's willingness to welcome his kids into his business empire will be called nepotism.

"There's always going to be nepotism — whether it's friendship nepotism or whether it's children nepotism. You know, that's the way the world works," said Trump.

But how will the children know if they're in fact doing a good job? They're not getting into the company based solely on merit.

"I think, you know, it goes to back from when we were children," said Donald Jr. "If I didn't prove myself every day, I wouldn't be able to excel in the organization and he would see to it that I didn't."

Eric says their last name makes their job even tougher because they have bigger shoes to fill. "We're going to be tested more than anybody," he said.

Trump admits his kids certainly will have advantages, but Donald Jr. says they'll still work hard: "I think we've been programmed genetically with too much ambition to sit back and collect rent for the rest of our lives."

And Trump is confident his kids can make it work. "Everyone thinks everything is going to work out. The fact is that they get along great. They have an amazing relationship. And I hope it continues on in the business."

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