Donald Trump is shutting down Trump Mortgage, the mortgage lending company he launched with an audacious press conference in the atrium at Trump Tower.
This is a very special moment for DealBreaker because we covered the launch back in April. It was one of those burning, shining moments that mark market manias. A half dozen television cameras crowded the room. A crowd of onlookers cheered as the Donald, the Donald Jr and Trump Mortgage CEO E.J. Ridings entered. Small children were dressed like Donald Trump. People sipped from bottles of water bearing Trump’s likeness.
Even the Donald seemed stunned. "If you had told me we would have had this many people for a friggin' mortgage company opening--give me a break," he told the crowd.
Of course, most of the crowd was not attending because they were super-excited about a new mortgage company. They were there because the Donald is a money culture celebrity, complete with his own catch-phrase. And Donald let them have what they wanted—his own version of “Whachoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”
As we wrote way back in April 2006:
It takes exactly three minutes before The Donald finally gives the crowd what they've come for. He tells them that this is going to be a very successful company.
"If it's not," Donald says turning to the President, "EJ…you're fired!"
As it turns out, it wasn’t a successful company and EJ Riding wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. It aimed to do about $3 billion of business but barely reached $1 billion. And then Money Magazine looked into the claims that Riding was "a top executive at one of Wall Street's most prestigious investment banks" with fifteen years of experience in the financial industry. It turned out that his “Wall Street” experience consisted of working for a few months as a broker for Dean Witter back in 1998. But, you know, he had run a cleaning business and a vitamin company. And that’s pretty much the same thing, right?
Trump hardly seems chagrined about the failure of Trump mortgage. In fact, he is outrageously trying to distance himself from it. “Trump played down his role in Trump Mortgage, saying it was just a licensing deal and he didn't have an ownership stake,” according to the New York Post. Sorry, Donald, we’re not buying that line. We were there. You and Junior were all over this thing. So we're scoring this as a loss for you, and a win for us.
For those of you keeping track at home, that makes the score:
Donald Trump: $2,600,000,000.00
Trump Mortgage Flop Tried To Credentials Flap [New York Post]