By all accounts, Donald Trump knows business. He inherited a small fortune from his real-estate developer father and turned it into a huge one. "I'm very, very rich" seems to be his favorite phrase. He claims he can take that tough business acumen and turn it into a major asset for the country. He'll "Make America Great Again," as his baseball caps ($20), T-shirts ($15) and bumper stickers (free) proclaim.
As a successful CEO, Trump is now auditioning for the top chief executive job in the nation. Apparently, a sizable faction among those who will ultimately make the decision thinks he's the best candidate. Some of us, on the other hand, have our doubts. The Trump backers claim we skeptics are establishment types beholden to special interests. But I wonder how Trump himself would respond if he were in his famous "Apprentice" chair determining the acumen of a prospective hire and faced with a version of himself.
Admittedly, I haven't watched the Trump reality show. But I have interviewed -- and ultimately helped pick -- CEOs for two major public corporations (both with annual revenues of more than $5 billion) on whose boards I sat. So let's just say, these decisions were in a world a businessman like Trump could understand.
I was thinking about all of this when I dozed off at my desk. The next thing I knew I was in the boardroom, and The Donald walked in, full of bonhomie and humor, wearing a bright yellow tie that weirdly matched the color of his pompadour. He was there for his interview for the job of CEO of America Inc.
I gathered my composure, having been awakened from my nap, and asked him about what he'd do differently from our previous CEO.
"I'd make America great again," he says.
I push a little further. "Exactly how would you turn America around?"
"I think you're gonna see lots of plans, and you're gonna see -- also, and you have to understand, when you're coming up with a plan in business you have to be flexible. There's got to be flexibility."
Hmm, I think to myself. "So what do you think about our competitors," I ask.
"Much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning," he tells me.
"Wow, that's a surprise. I mean America Inc. is the biggest and the best -- or so I thought. So what do you mean?" I inquire.
"Everybody is beating us. We have incompetent people negotiating. ... We are losing money at every single step. We don't make good deals anymore," he says.
"All right, I get it. But you want to be CEO of America Inc., so tell me specifically how you're going to change the company," I say with growing impatience.
"I recently bought something -- not so recently -- but Doral in Miami," he tells me. "Everybody wanted it. If I would have sat down and said here's a 12-point plan in order to get Doral -- I didn't do that. I went in and punched and punched and beat the hell out of people, and I ended up getting it. Everybody wanted it," he says, his face growing redder, his lower lip pouting. "I got it. And I got it because I know how to get things. I know how to get things done. You can't sit down and say, well, I'm going to come up with a 19-point plan," he says before I interrupt.
"You're fired," I say, sticking my finger in his face, before I realize I can't fire the guy because he hasn't gotten the job yet. He pushes the chair back, straightens his tie and walks out. The next thing I know, one of the other board members walks in and asks me what I did to the guy. "He says you had blood coming out of your eyes, your ... whatever."
"You mean he said I was seeing red -- that's the expression, right?"
"Nope, not what he said," my colleague answers.
"Didn't this fellow used to have a television show?" I ask. "What was it called again?"
Before he can answer, it hits me. "'The Biggest Loser,' that must be it."
OK, so I got the name wrong. It was a dream, after all. But surely a very, very rich, successful businessman like Donald Trump would feel the same if confronted with a job applicant who gave similar answers in a real job interview.