Maybe Trump Should Stop Handing Out $100s

The Donald is reportedly doing his part to help his staff weather the economic downturn: He gives each employee $100 every time he sees them.

Contact Music: “People are amazed by that but some of them have worked for me for a long time, they do a fantastic job for me. And I love giving them a hundred bucks to take their wives out for dinner or something, and it’s a big thing for them…So I have a very good relationship with the workers.”

The way things are now, we wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s employees started hovering around his office.

Meanwhile, maybe he should spend some time with the employees still working on his massive Chicago condo-hotel project (the one that Bill Rancic was hired to supervise at the end of the first season of The Apprenticein 2004). The building’s still not done. Bill has moved on, but the unfinished residential property is still there.

WSJ: Many real-estate developers are under pressure these days as lenders and investors rush to cut their exposure to the market. But Mr. Trump’s 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, which will be the tallest building constructed in the U.S. since the Sears Tower opened in 1973, may be especially vulnerable because it’s getting hit by a triple whammy of colliding forces: the credit crunch, the reversal in the housing market and weak retail sales.

The shiny glass skyscraper is one of the few that the brash Mr. Trump developed without partners. The situation also puts pressure on one of the project’s major lenders, Fortress Investment Group LLC.

So far, Mr. Trump has lined up buyers for a bit less than $600 million of condo units and condo-hotel units in a residential market that has virtually seized up. Yet he owes lenders as much as $1 billion when the loans are due, according to public records and several people familiar with the project. He has closed around $200 million in sales so far, with roughly $380 million still in contract. The retail portion of the giant building is for sale, at a time of rising vacancies for retail space in Chicago and one of the worst eras for retailers in years.

People close to Mr. Trump concede that the project, which contains 486 condo units and more than 300 hotel rooms, is caught in a tough spot. Still, Mr. Trump says the building can be successful if he sells the rest of the unsold units, which he estimates have a potential value of $475 million. “It could turn out to be a successful development depending on what happens in the market over the next two years,” he said in an interview. “The job is on time and on budget, and it’s a beautiful job and will become an icon of the Chicago skyline.”

Ok, Donald, we’ll play along: The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago will be YOOGE.

But to be safe, maybe you should cutback on the $100 handouts. Or knock them down to $1 or 25 cents; nobody tips in change anymore, it’s sad.

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