Who wants to be a millionaire? Not Donald Trump.
The real estate mogul and TV star said Tuesday that he was suing an author who wrote that Trump was not a billionaire and instead pegged his net worth at no more than $250 million.
The larger-than-life entrepreneur known to millions of people from his reality show, “The Apprentice,” sued Timothy O’Brien, a New York Times reporter who wrote “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” and its publisher, Warner Books, for making allegedly defamatory statements.
At the core of the case is O’Brien’s statement that Trump, whose empire includes casinos, hotels and construction, exaggerated his wealth.
The suit, filed Monday in state court in New Jersey, seeks $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages from Warner Books and O’Brien, who covered Trump’s businesses for more than a decade.
“I believe it is important to expose irresponsible, malicious and false reporting,” Trump said in a statement.
Warner Books spokesman Rob Nissen said that Trump had participated extensively and willingly in O’Brien’s research for the book and that the author was willing to meet Trump at any time to discuss its merits.
“Mr. O’Brien is an award-winning, veteran business reporter with the New York Times and his work, as does his book, ‘TrumpNation,’ speak for themselves,” Nissen said in a statement. O’Brien had not seen the lawsuit, Nissen said.
The lawsuit seeks $2.5 billion in compensatory damages and another $2.5 billion in punitive damages.
Trump alleges that O’Brien and Warner Books knowingly made false and malicious statements about him, his family, his personal life and business dealings, including statements misrepresenting Trump’s net worth.
Trump said defamatory material in the book included statements based on three anonymous sources that he “was not remotely close to being a billionaire” and that his “net worth was somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.”
Trump’s financial fortunes have been a roller coaster over the years, with several of his corporations filing for bankruptcy protection in the 1980s and 1990s.
Just last year, his casino unit, Trump Entertainment, emerged from bankruptcy protection, but Trump said in September 2004 that the casino empire represented only about 1% of his net worth.