You might just consider our next story to be a unique artifact of the '80s, The Donald before the fall. It's conversation with Donald Trump literally just hours we believe before he told his wife Ivana that their marriage was over; just days before the name Marla Maples tickled the tongues of gossip columnists around the country, and only weeks before the Trump financial empire began to crack. What did Donald Trump know as he bravely strutted through our interview? What was to be his last public attempt to be invincible. Knowing what we know now, his answers are pretty interesting. See what you think. Aren't you tired of Donald Trump and Ivana and all their marriage problems and private affairs? I mean, excuse me, who cares, right? I don't know what it's like in your city, but here in New York the fuss about the Trumps is ridiculous. Well, here's my story. I did an interview with The Donald just hours, we believe, before he dropped the bomb on Ivana. So, you see, I'm asking him questions with no idea of what's going on in his head. He knows his marriage is breaking up, I don't. But knowing what we know now his answers are kind of fascinating. The poignant pauses--is he squirming? Is he telling me less than the truth? You decide. If you called up somebody else that you've never even heard of who's got great wealth and said I want to do an interview, number one, they'd be afraid to do it; number two, they wouldn't want to do it; number three, they wouldn't know how to do it; and number four, they're probably right. They're probably right? They're probably right. What do you mean? They shouldn't? Well, I think -- I think there's a nice safety net in not doing it. There's no reason to expose yourself to millions of people. There's no... But you know why you do it. Why? Tell me. You love the publicity. Oh, I hate the publicity. Oh, come on. Get out of here. Oh, no. I'm telling you I hate the publicity. Oh, please. I hate it and except for the fact that it's as fun as a sparring session, I mean, this would normally not even be fun. This is -- this is fine and this is fun and all that stuff, but ... Oh, but come on. -- you're on all these covers ... No, you don't understand. ... Playboy, Fame, I mean, Newsweek or Time. You have to understand. It happens to be -- it happens to be -- well, both. It happens to be good for what I do. What Donald Trump does, of course, is make a lot of money and make sure everybody knows it; a yacht, a mansion, a bigger mansion, an airline, two casinos, a bigger casino. That is really incredible. There's nothing like it. There's nothing like this place. By now, his possessions are more familiar to us than what we have hanging in our own closets. His buildings -- well, you know which ones they are. I sell very great condominiums in New York. I have the best ... They aren't that great. Come on. What, the Trump Tower? They're not the best. Maybe if you can try to answer this question without giving me the normal spiel ... What is the normal spiel? I don't ... Well, the normal spiel is when -- the fact is that many rich and powerful people do try to remain anonymous, but you became very public very clearly by your own design ... I don't know if it was by my own design. You mean the publicity? I do developments which get a lot of publicity. I mean, if I didn't do Trump ... Oh, come on. I mean this. If Trump Tower weren't a great building on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street by a young guy ... Trump Towers is one building in New York City with zillions of buildings. Trump Towers was built by a young guy in a very important ... That's because you know how to -- you know. No, I don't think it was by design, though. I think that it happened, but I don't ... You're sitting so innocent. Come on. No. I want to be innocent. I've always wanted to be innocent. My entire life has been devoted to being innocent. Just innocent? Is it little Donald? But I don't know that it is by design. Did I once call you and say, Connie, we have to do an interview? We have to do this. It's great. It's going to be the greatest thing ... OK, Donald Trump didn't call us, but he did do this interview just before an avalanche of publicity about his marriage descended on the empire he worked so skillfully to build. The invincibility of the Trump name is now bombarded by gossip about secret liaisons and bedroom prose. And the success of Trump the man is now the stuff for prenuptial pacts. Overnight it seems, America turned from a fascination of what Trump has to what he could lose. Do you wish we'd all go away? Absolutely. What is the most important thing in your life? I think generally speaking, family. I think that -- I think it's very important -- stability. I'd like to say continued economic success. You would always say the most important thing would be health for yourself and the people around you and the people that you love because that's -- that's ultimately the most important I think. Do you have a best friend? Well, I have so many different friends and it would be hard to say a best friend. Is your wife Ivana a best friend? She's -- she's a great friend, she's -- I have a father who's a great friend. But is there somebody that you really confide in? I -- I tend not to confide. I really tend not to confide. I'm very closed in that sense now. I think that's my own maybe guarded mechanism. Is it that you don't trust people? I don't trust people. I'm -- I'm a non-trusting person. I trust members of my family, I trust people that are very close to me. But you know what, they also say never go into business with members of your family. Oh, I agree. Going into business with family members is either the best or the worst. There's no in-between. Well, your brother Robert is ... Robert does a great job and Ivana runs the Plaza Hotel and she's doing a beautiful job. So -- but you just said to me that you don't think that family members should. No. No. I -- I generally think it's not a good policy but ... But it works in your family? ... I also think -- it works in my family and I also think it's a great policy if it does work, but if for some reason it doesn't work out, there could be nothing worse. How do you know it isn't going to go sour? I don't. You never do. What may sour on Donald Trump is that beautiful job he says his wife Ivana has done with the Plaza. How beautiful and how much could that be worth in any divorce settlement? Trump family and business have been together for a while. He started real estate with his father, himself a millionaire developer in Brooklyn and Queens. His older brother Fred was also in the business for a short time. He died at 43, the same age Donald is now. I've seen people confide in the wrong people and it's really devastating. And, again, I don't say that as a positive ... But do you think that stems from when you were a kid -- do you think? When you were a kid, did you have ... No, I think it stems from the fact that I had a brother who -- who was an extraordinary guy. He was a -- an -- an absolutely brilliant personality. He was handsome, he was wonderful, people loved him, he was nice, he confided in everybody. He was truly a nice human being and people took advantage of him and I saw what they did to my brother and I didn't like it. He gave of himself 100%. He totally did. He totally gave of himself and he gave himself to other people. Opened himself up. He totally did and I tend to be just the opposite. There's a marvelous innocence about that, though, isn't there? There's something very beautiful about it. Unfortunately, when you're growing up in New York City and you're dealing with some of the great sharks of the world, especially in the real estate business, it's not very good. It was very bad in a business sense. He was -- he was taken advantage of. He didn't want to go into business anyway. He didn't want to. You're absolutely right. He didn't want to. He should not have, and perhaps it was my fault and perhaps my father's fault for egging him on to business because he wasn't good at it, because he didn't like the business ... And you also encouraged him to go into business? I did. I don't like to think too much about what happened with Fred. With Fred, it was an alcohol problem and it ultimately -- all of what I'm saying led to alcoholism and that indirectly just killed him. Fred used to tell me when I was very young, don't ever smoke -- don't ever smoke, don't ever drink. See, he had these problems. He knew what the problems were. He couldn't solve them for himself, but he tried to solve them for me. Donald Trump doesn't smoke and doesn't drink. He gets by on four or five hours of sleep and gets up before dawn, a day that may end with as many as four social events a night. I think I'm relatively happy. I'm content certainly. I'm not a man who walks around smiling and telling everybody I'm happy. I'm happy. Here I am. But I'm a pretty content guy. Everybody's life is not perfect. What's missing in yours? What's wrong with you? I really don't like to think about what's missing, you know? If you get into what's missing, you don't appreciate what you have and you can also say ... But what -- what's -- what's wrong with you? There must be a little something that's wrong with it, you know, 'cause there's always something. I'm always looking for more excitement in life. I look at life as one time -- here we are, it's a one-time go around. I'm always looking for more excitement. Oftentimes, I would not consider my life to be the most exciting time in the world and probably the world would tell me I'm crazy because I think the world's perception of me and my life is much different than that. Is it meeting someone who impresses you? No, it's not meeting someone. It's doing something. It's achieving something. It's -- it's the thrill of doing -- when I buy the Plaza Hotel, to me that's exciting because it's a trophy. It's a total trophy. When I build Trump Tower or when I build the Taj Mahal ... Yeah, but you know it sounds like bobbles. Do you understand that? Yeah, but it's exciting, and part of the reason it's exciting is because they're megadeals, they're important deals, they're glamorous deals. Everybody talks about them, everybody reads about them and writes about them. There's a level of importance there that I think also somewhat turns me on Yeah, but how -- how is it important? It's not socially redeeming. It's not something ... Well, you can say that, but in actuality thousands and thousands of people are put to work. Millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes are paid and that ... Yeah, but you're just building luxury hotels, luxury casinos. .. But, Connie, all of that money ... ... you know, it's sort of the rich stuff and all. I know. I know and I've also done non-luxury. I've done a lot of low-income housing, I've done a lot of senior citizens ... That was a long time ago. That was back in '74. Oh, you've -- you've read -- you've read my past. Yeah, when you were working with your father. But the truth is whether I build a Trump Tower or whether I build senior citizen housing -- I think Trump Tower in many respects is -- and I'm very proud of the senior citizen housing I built. A long time ago, though. Not recently -- not recently. Doesn't matter. I mean, it doesn't matter. Now, Connie ... No, since you've made your Manhattan Trump millions or you're up to a billion -- more than a billion now ... I hope so. Right. So, what are you asking me? So, I'm asking you why not do more of that? So, let me ask you -- I do a book and I get millions of dollars from the book. The book turned out to be like the biggest book of the year and I give all of that money to charity. I do a game, I do a game show, I do the Wallman's skating rink where the city incompetently for seven years can't open the rink. What's a skating rink? Come on. What's a skating rink? That's a very important thing. It's a part of society. No, it isn't. Come on. It's a skating rink. Come on, I mean, a skating rink. It's an important thing, you know. Sure, it's a skating rink, but in the meantime, you'd have half of New York City going crazy because they didn't have their little skating rink. Do you really feel like a philanthropic person? I feel very philanthropic. I really do. Do you? And I'm a young guy ... You know, people don't believe that. Oh, I think people believe that. See, it gets to a point where some people can never be satisfied, Connie. Perhaps you're one of those people. Actually, Trump himself never seems quite satisfied until he spots the next deal on the horizon. Why did you buy the Plaza? Why did I buy it? Because it would have driven me crazy if anyone else owned it. Why? Because I'm looking at it every day. How would I feel if someone else owned it? Wouldn't that be a horrible feeling? You come to your office, you're looking at the most beautiful building that I've ever seen, the Plaza Hotel, and somebody else owns it. I'd feel guilty, so I had to buy it. But -- but I look out on buildings all the time and I don't want to own them or ... Well, it's a different mind-set. If the San Francisco bridge were outside your window, would you say: Ah, I want to own that, too? No, I guess not But what about the other part of his life? His family? His three children? I try to spend as much time with them as possible and I think that's important and I think they see and I think they also understand that my life is different than my -- and they're at an age now where they understand it. But I really spend as much time as you can spend under the circumstances in which I live. You're able to peel away from work for a dinner? Absolutely. I have to. Every night? If my son calls me, as an example, I'll always take his call no matter what I'm doing. I mean, I'll always take his call. I always feel that it's very important to be really close with each other. The children are special. You're son Donald Jr.? Donald Jr. Any -- any one of my children. If any one of my children Any of the other two? If any one of my children call, I'll always take their call no matter what I'm doing. I know that your parents brought you up with a good set of values. I -- I know that your sister had said that and your mother was a homemaker. Your children are growing up in an entirely different kind of family. Right. Do you think it is the family you want them to grow up in? Do you understand what I'm saying? Well, I don't have a choice. I mean it's a family that's -- it's a good family, it's a good life. I think when Ivana -- I often say looks at Mar-a-Lago. Your daughter. My daughter -- and she walks into the halls of Mar-a-Lago which is a home in Palm Beach that I bought in all fairness as an investment, but I. . . More than 100 rooms? Yeah. And -- and when she looks at its magnificence, you see this little girl and she looks up and she says -- you know, and -- and I just wonder what she must be thinking because it can't be a normal situation, but I think maybe it's as normal as it's going to get. I think she takes it for granted perhaps and maybe it's good or maybe that's not good, but to her it's a normal situation. Don't you think it's probably not good? I don't know. I'll tell you about it in 20 years after they grow up. I can't tell you now. You could prevent yourself from buying the home in Palm Beach or the Cachexia Yacht and then your children wouldn't be exposed to this extraordinary ostentatious wealth. Well, I don't know what ostentatious means. I mean, the Mar-a-Lago is considered architecturally one of the great places of this continent. Yeah, but you know what I'm talking about. The yacht is considered -- but -- but let me tell you, I don't do it for that reason. I do it as an investment. I mean, I buy the yacht .. No, but aren't you concerned about the effect on your children? Well, I -- no, because I don't think it has an effect. I think -- I think the effect on the children is seeing good parents, seeing this or seeing that. I don't think the effect on the children is whether they go into a big yacht or a small yacht or regular boat ... Yacht at all. ... or something else, or whether it's a big house or a small house. I think that's not -- I mean, there are very many unhappy children that have a one-bedroom apartment -- that live in a one-bedroom apartment with their parents and . . . I know, but you know what I'm talking about. No, I understand, but I do it as an investment. The kids are going to get -- the kids go on the yacht, don't they? Sure they go on it, but very seldom. I do it as an investment. I don't need necessarily to live like this. I could be very happy living in a one-bedroom apartment believe me. So why don't you just for the heck of it? I might try it. I mean maybe -- maybe one of these days we'll give it a shot. You're 43, you have a wife and three children, a lot of buildings, a lot of debt. Have you gone through your midlife crisis yet? I think I've gone through my midlife crisis. I -- I really feel good about the way things are in life. You have? You've gone through -- I mean the midlife crisis is very dramatic. I don't think -- I don't think it's been a dramatic period for me. You know, I think men do have a midlife crisis. I don't think from my standpoint it's been a particularly dramatic period. No? Maybe I haven't been there yet. I'm not sure that I'm really at midlife yet. I hope I'm not. So maybe I haven't been there yet. I'll make you a deal. If I do go through a midlife crisis, I'll call you and let you know. It will be very exciting. He never called. So much for that. Well several months after his breakup with Ivana, estimates of his net worth were cut in half by Forbes magazine, then Trump defaulted on bonds used to finance his Atlantic City casinos. And then a bank bailout forced him to go on a monthly allowance. Word now is that his airline, his Palm Beach mansion, among other possessions, may be up for sale.