IN THE RED?

Donald Trump’s Mouth Has Cost Him $50+ Million

All these cut business ties are costing The Donald. But he’s getting the kind of airtime other candidates have to spend hundreds of millions to get.

07.14.15 5:05 AM ET

Not a day goes by, it seems, that Donald Trump doesn’t lose money thanks to his notorious comments about Mexican immigrants. NBC, Univision, Macy’s, and even Perfumania, which makes the Trump “Success” cologne, have all said “no mas” to The Donald.

Because of Donald’s big mouth, I won’t be even able to get that “Trump Mattress” from Serta I so long coveted. What is the world coming to?

So all this corporate backlash must be costing Donald a mint, right? Well, actually, no, because when you add it all up Trump has just paid chump change to get into the biggest show on earth, namely the race for the presidency.

Yes, all this cutting of ties has cost Trump money; Trump officials won’t comment on the cost, but most estimates have Trump losing between $50 million and $80 million.

How did I get these numbers? Most of them aren’t public and some of them aren’t public and some have to be inferred through various press accounts. But I can tell you that when I bounced these estimates off Trump officials and some sources on Wall Street, they said they seemed reasonable.

OK, sure: That’s real cash to most people, but I’ve seen billionaire Wall Street guys spend $50 million to build a home. If you believe the Donald is worth $1 billion, that’s only 5 percent of his wealth. Obviously, if you believe he’s worth what Forbes say he is (more than $4 billion) and Trump’s own calculation (close to $9 billion), we’re talking peanuts.

Keep in mind what he’s getting for all this, too. I haven’t noticed a Trump television ad so far, but I’ve seen Trump on TV plenty since his immigration comments. And I’ve noticed something else: that he’s now polling at the top of the GOP candidate list.

That makes Trump a far more savvy operator than most of his opponents and media critics, who think the Donald has destroyed his “brand” and is bleeding money as he indulges his ego with a reckless, insult-filled presidential run.

Just add up what Trump has lost so far: Most media reports say as many as 12 companies have severed ties with Trump since the “Mexicans are rapists” comments. For what it’s worth, as of press time, Trump’s people say he’s really only lost business with the aforementioned five companies: NBC, Univision, Perfumania, Macy’s, and Serta.

That’s because companies like ESPN and NASCAR had more tentative relationships with the Donald —they merely rented Trump golf courses and other Trump venues for events, and his people tell me they’ve already put down large down payments, which Trump will keep, and therefore profit twice since he will rent those venues out to others.

GOP front-runner Jeb Bush and the nearly anointed Democrat Hillary Clinton are looking to raise a combined $4 billion to run for president. Trump says he will fund his campaign himself, which, at least on the surface, should make all this brand-damaging at least somewhat costly, right?

But Trump is a walking (and tweeting) PR machine, so how much money he really needs to spend on whatever he is doing is probably negligible. I bet he never spends a dime on ads, because he doesn’t need to. The media will give him all the exposure he wants, and for free. He already has the kind of exposure that other candidates spend hundreds of millions on.

Yes, he has caused a firestorm with his disturbing (and, by all accounts, factually inaccurate) remarks about Mexican immigrants. And the long-term effects on his vaunted Donald Trump brand could be formidable, experts say.

But I’m dubious that the Donald’s brand will take that much of a hit. Since the days when he focused myopically on real estate, Trump’s brand has been built on firing people on television and stirring up controversy, which drives a dedicated fan base to buy his perfume, watch him on television and golf at his high-end golf courses.

And those people—Trump’s real base—couldn’t care less.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason

Meanwhile, Donald, with his bad hair, power red tie and big mouth, is drawing huge crowds on the campaign trail, and has pulled into a virtual tie with Bush, a two-term former governor. Does he really want to be president? I’ve always been skeptical. The Donald is all about building his name and brand into something bigger, which is really what his run for president is all about.

Meanwhile, Trump’s people have assured me that the deal with Perfumania was a two-year deal that simply won’t be renewed, which means I can luxuriate in the masculine scents of “Success” for the next two years, well after The Donald drops out of the race and when his brand has been taken to new heights.

And all for a mere $50 million.