Trump Says He Could Save U.N. Nearly $1 Billion

ByABC News
August 20, 2001, 7:32 PM

Aug. 22 -- New York billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump says he can potentially save the United Nations $1 billion. Could it be a case of unexpected humanitarianism, hyper-aggressive business, bravado, or perhaps all of the above?

In an interview with, the real estate and casino mogul says the perpetually cash-strapped organization has massively overvalued the preliminary projected cost for renovating and expanding its 50-year-old historic headquarters on the East River in Manhattan.

A U.N. study released last year estimated it could cost from $964 million to $1.054 billion to renovate the complex over a 6-year or 12-year period, plus up to $500 million more in interest payments on loans. The cost, theoretically, would be borne by member countries including the United States.

Trump says he could do the job cheaper, faster and better than what is planned.

"I could do it for $500 million, what they're going to spend $1.6 billion for. The only difference is my job would be better," says Trump.

Quicker, Better, Faster

Trump even said so much in a pitch to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan earlier this year. He boasted he could save money through his connections to the labor unions and suppliers, and could complete the job in one-third the time, at one-third the cost, and with less disruption to the staff.

"I have a lot of respect for the secretary general and know he's going to do the right thing," says Trump.

The one-time presidential candidate questioned whether the U.N. bureaucracy was really aiming for the best deal.

"I hope they're able to get away from the bureaucrats that are trying to get rich getting this job built," he said.

To back his claims, Trump cited some previous accomplishments, including his recent ahead-of-schedule construction of a 90-story glass residential building, the world's largest, just a stone's throw from the U.N. headquarters.

"I did the 90-story building opposite the United Nations for $360 million, and it's brand new. So how does it cost $1.6 billion to fix the building?" he asked.