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‘It was all a hoax’: NYT destroys Donald Trump’s claims of business success in second blockbuster on his taxes

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NBC's The Apprentice

President Donald Trump’s tax returns have resulted in a second bombshell story by The New York Times.

“From the back seat of a stretch limousine heading to meet the first contestants for his new TV show “The Apprentice,” Donald J. Trump bragged that he was a billionaire who had overcome financial hardship. ‘I used my brain, I used my negotiating skills and I worked it all out,” he told viewers. “Now, my company is bigger than it ever was and stronger than it ever was.’ It was all a hoax,” the newspaper reported Monday evening.

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“Months after that inaugural episode in January 2004, Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year. The red ink spilled from everywhere, even as American television audiences saw him as a savvy business mogul with the Midas touch. Twelve years later, that image of the self-made, self-saved mogul, beamed into the national consciousness, would help fuel Mr. Trump’s improbable election to the White House,” The Times reported.

“But while the story of “The Apprentice” is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today. Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame,” the newspaper reported.

The NBC show “The Apprentice” made Trump over $400 million.

“By analyzing the tax records, The New York Times was able to place a value on Mr. Trump’s celebrity. While the returns show that he earned some $197 million directly from ‘The Apprentice’ over 16 years — roughly in line with what he has claimed — they also reveal that an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it,” the newspaper reported.

When contacted, the Trump campaign complained about the newspaper reporting on Trump’s finances before Tuesday’s debate.

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“In response to a request for comment, a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, did not dispute any specific facts,” the newspaper reported. “Instead, he delivered a broad attack, calling the article ‘fake news’ and ‘yet another politically motivated hit piece full of inaccurate smears’ appearing ‘before a presidential debate.'”

Regardless, the newspaper provided details.

“This article is based on an examination of data from those returns, which include personal and business tax filings for Mr. Trump and his companies spanning more than two decades. Every dollar is disclosed for the first time: $8,768,330 paid to him by ACN, a multilevel marketing company that was accused of taking advantage of vulnerable investors; $50,000 from the Lifetime channel for a “juicy nighttime soap” that never materialized; $5,026 in net income from a short-lived mortgage business; and $15,286,244 from licensing his name to a line of mattresses,” the newspaper reported. “Mr. Trump was not terribly discriminating in his choice of endorsements. He slapped his name on everything from steaks and vodka to a board game and cologne.”

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