US Election 2016

Donald Trump's life story: From hotel developer to president

Donald Trump in profile Image copyright Getty Images

Long before he was a contender for the US presidency, Donald Trump was America's most famous and colourful billionaire.

Once considered a long shot, Trump is now president of the United States.

Scepticism over Trump's candidacy stemmed not only from his controversial platform on immigration and outrageous campaign style, but from his celebrity past.

But the 70-year-old businessman had the last laugh when he defied all predictions to beat much more seasoned politicians in the Republican primary race.

And he has now gone a step further by winning the presidential election, after one of the most divisive and controversial contests in living memory against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Image copyright Getty Images

Early life

Mr Trump is the fourth child of New York real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Despite the family's wealth, he was expected to work the lowest-tier jobs within his father's company and was sent off to a military academy at age 13 when he started misbehaving in school.

He attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and became the favourite to succeed his father after his older brother, Fred, chose to become a pilot. Fred Trump died at 43 due to alcoholism, an incident that his brother says led him to avoid alcohol and cigarettes his entire life.

Mr Trump says he got into real estate with a "small" $1m loan from his father before joining the company. He helped manage his father's extensive portfolio of residential housing projects in the New York City boroughs, and took control of the company - which he renamed the Trump Organization - in 1971.

His father died in 1999. "My father was my inspiration," Mr Trump said at the time.

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The mogul

Mr Trump shifted his family's business from residential units in Brooklyn and Queens to glitzy Manhattan projects, transforming the rundown Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt and erecting the most famous Trump property, the 68-storey Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Other properties bearing the famous name followed - Trump Place, Trump World Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and so on. There are Trump Towers in Mumbai, Istanbul and the Philippines.

Mr Trump also developed hotels and casinos, an arm of the business that has led to four bankruptcy filings (for the businesses, not personal bankruptcy).

Mr Trump also built an empire in the entertainment business. From 1996 until 2015, he was an owner in the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants. In 2003, he debuted an NBC reality television show called The Apprentice, in which contestants competed for a shot at a management job within Mr Trump's organisation. He hosted the show for 14 seasons, and claimed in a financial disclosure form that he was paid a total of $213m by the network during the show's run.

He has written several books, and owns a line of merchandise that sells everything from neckties to bottled water. According to Forbes, his net worth is $3.7bn, though Mr Trump has repeatedly insisted he is worth $10bn.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ivana and Donald Trump in 1989

The husband and father

Trump has been married three times, though his most famous wife was his first - Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech athlete and model. The couple had three children - Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric - before they filed for divorce in 1990. The ensuing court battle made for numerous stories in the tabloid press. Those stories included allegations that Trump was abusive towards Ivana, though she later downplayed the incidents.

He married actress Marla Maples in 1993. They had a daughter named Tiffany together before divorcing in 1999. He married his current wife Melania Knauss, a model, in 2005, and the couple have one son, Barron William Trump.

His children from his first marriage now help run Trump Organization, though he is still chief executive.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Trump with his wife Melania and children at his campaign announcement

The candidate

Mr Trump expressed interest in running for president as early as 1987, and even entered the 2000 race as a Reform Party candidate.

After 2008, he became one of the most outspoken members of the "birther" movement, which questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the US. Those claims have been thoroughly debunked; Mr Obama was born in Hawaii. Mr Trump finally admitted there was no truth in the claims during the presidential race, although, characteristically, there was no apology.

It was not until June 2015 that Mr Trump formally announced his entrance into the race for the White House.

"We need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that," he said in his announcement speech, promising that as a candidate with no need to fundraise he answered to no special interests and was the perfect outsider candidate.

Under the banner Make America Great Again, Trump has run a controversial campaign built on promises to strengthen the American economy, build a wall on the border of Mexico and the US, and to temporarily ban immigration by Muslims "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".

Despite massive protests at his campaign events and the best efforts of his Republican rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Trump became the presumptive Republican party nominee for president after the Indiana primary.

The election winner

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Few expected to ever see Trump in the Oval Office

Mr Trump's campaign for the presidency was rocked by controversies, including the emergence of a recording from 2005 of him making lewd remarks about women, and claims, including from members of his own party, that he was not fit for office.

But he consistently told his army of supporters that he would defy the opinion polls, which mostly had him trailing Hillary Clinton, and that his presidency would strike a blow against the political establishment and "drain the swamp" in Washington.

He took inspiration from the successful campaign to get Britain out of the European Union, saying he would pull off "Brexit times 10".

It was something few pundits believed would happen as polling day approached, despite his campaign receiving a late boost from fresh controversy over an FBI investigation into his opponent's emails.

As his stunning victory was still sinking in across the US, his supporters got the chance to see him in the Oval Office when he and President Obama met for transition talks two days after election day.

He is the first US president never to have held elected office or served in the military, meaning that he had already made history before he was sworn in as America's 45th president on 20 January 2017.

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