December 02, 2016Print : World
NEW YORK: It has proven one of Donald Trump´s greatest strengths in building a worldwide luxury brand: An obsessive attention to detail, down to the curtains hanging in hotel rooms and the marble lining the lobby floor.
As president, it may prove one of his major liabilities, presidential historians warn.
Interviews with a dozen people familiar with how Trump conducts business reveal the president-elect as a micromanager who regularly spars over details about décor in projects across his real estate and branding empire.
"I´m very much involved in the details," Trump said during a June deposition in a lawsuit stemming from his development of a Washington hotel.
"I was involved in the design of the building and the room sizes and the entrances and the lobby and the marble and the bathrooms and the fixtures and the bars and a lot of things.
" Trump announced on Wednesday that he would leave his businesses "in total" so that he could focus on the presidency.
But those who have worked with him say a lifetime habit of micromanaging may be difficult to break, providing ammunition for critics who say his decisions as president will be driven by his private interests.
A former employee of the Trump Organization who has worked closely with Trump was skeptical that he could leave behind his beloved company after spending decades building it up.
"I can´t picture him stepping aside for the presidency," the ex-employee said.
Even if he does make a clean break, Trump will have to guard against getting bogged down in the bureaucratic minutiae inherent in the office.
He should avoid the example of President Jimmy Carter, another famous micromanager, who spent his first months in office poring over the White House tennis court schedule, said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University.
Micromanagers rarely make successful presidents, said Rick Ghere, an associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
To be effective, presidents must delegate authority to members of their cabinet and rely on a range of expertise, he said.
"Being a decisionmaker in a high-level public position is a lot different than being a CEO," Ghere said.
Trump has said he will turn the Trump Organization over to his three adult children, who are already deeply involved in real estate projects around the world.
His daughter Ivanka, for instance, was charged with overseeing the renovation of Washington´s Old Post Office Pavilion, a $200 million project to turn the historic building into a luxury hotel.
In cases where Trump has delegated authority, he still demonstrates a deep reluctance to let go, even when it comes to seemingly trivial details.
Two people who participated in an inspection of the Washington hotel with Trump shortly before he announced his candidacy in June 2015 remember the businessman growing incensed over a detail: The restoration of exterior windows.
Trump said the windows looked terrible, though one of the sources recounting the story said there didn´t seem to be anything obviously wrong with them.
He demanded the contractor not be paid but was told the work had been done for free in the hopes of getting more business from the Trumps, according to the source.
That source and two others on the project also recalled hearing Ivanka say she needed her father´s approval before signing off on some decisions she wanted to make on the project.