Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Trump teed up for a fight

Following the Scottish Government's decision to call in Donald Trump's application for a golf resort in Aberdeenshire, BBC Scotland's Colin Wight travelled to Trump Tower in New York for an exclusive interview with the tycoon.


Donald Trump
Mr Trump says people fight him because of who he is

Donald Trump is excited.

He's in his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue and the phones are ringing. Share prices are plummeting.

This, he says with relish, is a challenge. And say what you like about Trump, the man loves a fight.

All this and it's his third wedding anniversary to third wife Melania.

So with more than enough going on in Trumpworld is he still happy to discuss golf? Sure, he's always happy to discuss golf.

I'm in New York to meet The Donald and see what he's provided for golfers here.

At Westchester in the village of Briarcliff Manor, less than an hour's drive away upstate, members include Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and former president Bill Clinton.

Their names are on their lockers. Membership, which costs $350,000, is not cheap.

Even with the healthy exchange rate, that's a big-time commitment to a good walk spoiled.

The 13th hole here is the most expensive in the United States. It boasts two waterfalls and cost $7m.

'Beautiful and elegant'

The course is closed over the winter, but on the coldest day so far they switch the waterfalls on - using 5,000 gallons a minute. Trump is keen to impress.

He's very happy to discuss his plans for the Menie Estate on the Aberdeenshire coast.

It will, he says, be one of the most beautiful jobs of its kind anywhere in the world. It will top everything else and won't be done in an "atrocious" way. It will be done in a "beautiful and elegant way".

But others are not so sure - especially environmentalists and some local residents.

Trump wants to build two courses, a 450-bedroom hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 residential units. Half of the championship course will be on a site of special scientific interest.

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson is a member of one of Mr Trump's exclusive clubs

Trump reveals that he originally wanted at least twice as much housing on the 1,500 acre site, but decided against it.

But he insists the environmental work required means he does need the housing to pay for it - otherwise, he says, he'd "lose his shirt".

On public access, he says he will obey the laws of Scotland.

Will it be a closed, gated community? Not decided yet. That will depend on the market.

But despite all the bluster, all the hyperbole, Trump still seems genuinely hurt at the rejection of his plans by Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure committee.

He can't understand why a project which he claims is so popular came to be thrown out by what he calls "a little roadblock".

He claims he's the real environmentalist.

And he denies he's only in it to line his own pockets, arguing that the jobs will be skilled and all that will work its way back into the local economy.

He admires the first minister, calling Alex Salmond "an amazing man".

He says the Scottish Government did a "great service" in calling in the application.

End result

Trump says his team did nothing inappropriate and amazingly he's honoured by the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the affair. The reason? It may bring change and help Scotland.

Donald Trump, like everyone else, is still awaiting a final decision on Menie. But he has no plans to walk away unless the decision is made for him.

The end result, he says, will be worth all the effort - a "magnificent and majestic" development.

He knows some people fight him simply because he is Donald Trump.

But, he says, that's also why others support him - and he claims that sometimes even his one-time enemies later join his clubs.

Will it ever happen in Scotland? Who knows, he hopes so.

"Now, if you don't mind," he says, "I have a few calls to make."

I bet, and let's hope he remembered the anniversary card.


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