Trump Organization EVP Eric Trump on his upbringing: ‘We were a nice real estate family’

Aarthi Swaminathan

Eric Trump has fond memories of his family life before his father became president.

“It seems like our lives have morphed in so many ways over the years,” the Trump Organization EVP told Yahoo Finance’s Adam Shapiro at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in New York City on Thursday. “We were a nice real estate family. … We built condominiums all over New York and other places. And we grew that business very, very quickly.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 10: Moderator Adam Shapiro (L) and Eric Trump attend the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West Events on October 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
Moderator Adam Shapiro (L) and Eric Trump attend the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West Events on October 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

‘We do everything together’

While the family was already wealthy before Eric was born, his mother Ivana Trump has said he and his siblings had a normal childhood.

''Believe me, my children are not spoiled,'' she told the Chicago Tribune in an interview in 1989, when Eric was 5 years old. ''I wouldn’t be working if they were. I’m a European, a very traditional woman, and I believe in my children working hard. After school, they’re off to ballet, tennis, painting lessons, play dates, birthday parties — which keeps them out of trouble — and I’m right there at 5:30 to go from one to the other with their homework. We all have dinner at 7. No business. No phone calls.”

In 2006, then-22-year-old Eric Trump told The New York Times that his older brother, Donald Trump Jr., had “always been my best friend, a mentor… In a way, he raised me. My father, I love and I appreciate, but he always worked 24 hours a day.”

Eric Trump on Thursday stressed that the family was close-knit. “As a family, we do everything together. We love each other. We are very loyal to each other. And if one person does something, we all hop in and we help,” he said.

Family portrait of, from left, socialite Ivana Trump, her son Eric Trump, her former husband businessman Donald Trump, and her daughter Ivanka Trump as they sit at a table at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1998. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
Family portrait of, from left, socialite Ivana Trump, her son Eric Trump, her former husband Donald Trump, and her daughter Ivanka Trump as they sit at a table at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1998. (Photo: Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

A series of ‘sudden’ events

The family’s success was based on a series of “sudden” and surprising events, Eric Trump said at the All Markets Summit.

“All of a sudden, we started doing some of the best hotels in the world and golf courses and wineries. And a little show called ‘The Apprentice’ came along. And all of a sudden, we were reality TV people. And I'm not really a … reality TV person. It's not kind of who we are.

But the show did incredibly well. And then, fast forward a couple of years past that, and all of a sudden, you know, he's running for president of the United States,” he explained.

Still, Donald Trump’s foray into politics wasn’t as sudden as it might have seemed. While President Trump and his allies often describe him as new to politics, the fact remains that he had dabbled in the public arena for many, many years.

In October 1999, Donald Trump announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee as a candidate of the Reform Party. He ended the campaign in early 2000.

BEIJING, Nov. 9, 2016 -- File photo taken on July 21, 2016 shows Donald Trump taking the stage on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, the United States.    Former real estate tycoon Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States after a neck-and-neck race with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.     Born on June 14, 1946, in New York, Trump started his career in his father's real estate firm in 1968 after graduation from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and was given control of the company in 1971, when he renamed the company "The Trump Organization."     Since then, Trump expanded the business by building casinos, golf courses, hotels and other properties and started marketing his name on a number of building projects and commercial products and services.     He was also famous as a reality television star as the host of his 14-season run "The Apprentice."     Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015, portraying himself as a Washington outsider. The announcement ended his long history of presidential flirtations that started in 1987 and were revived in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections.(Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images)
Donald Trump takes the stage on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, the United States in 2016. (Photo: Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images)

Even as early as in 1987, when Eric was 3 years old, there were rumblings that Trump was looking into running for president.

Larry King, who had interviewed the current president on CNN, had remarked that Trump sounded like “more like a politician these days … when he disagrees with a matter of policy, he does it in a big way,” later adding: “Could the Manhattan magnate be eyeing the White House or is he just calling a bluff?”

In 1988, Trump, who attended the Republican National Convention, told King: “I do enjoy the [political] system, I find it a really, really beautiful thing to watch.”

But throughout it all, the Trumps have always been prepared for the public scrutiny.

“We always realized we had big shoes to fill,” Eric Trump said. “We always realized that we were going to be under the spotlight. … that we were probably going to be held to a different standard. And I think that's the case even more so. And I've lived a very clean lifestyle because of that.”

All Markets Summit
All Markets Summit

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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