FIVE YEARS AGO, Ivanka Trump was just your average real estate heiress schlepping to classes at Wharton. How things have changed since the Donald’s daughter left town — the 28-year-old is now an executive VP at the Trump Organization; a regular on Celebrity Apprentice, which launches a new season in February; the author of The Trump Card; and a newlywed (married to New York Observer owner Jared Kushner). Trump was late for our interview, but after some quality speakerphone time chatting about the most useful skill she learned at Penn and her pal Tory Burch, all is forgiven.
Isn’t there a section in your book about being on time? [laughs] I’m so sorry, I was in a meeting. At least you know I’m working!
First of all, congratulations on your nuptials. Thank you. It’s an exciting time, personally and professionally. Everything’s gone well, so I couldn’t be happier.
Are you still in the glowing newlywed phase? Or are you already yelling at him to clean up after himself? Let’s hope, right? It’s only been a few weeks, so if that’s over, I’d have a whole series of issues. [laughs]
Looking back at Wharton, how did it prepare you for the high-stakes real estate business? Wharton helped me to quickly ease into the world I’m in. That said, it really just teaches you how to analyze and dissect problems. I’m better at making deals this year than I was last year. You interact with different people, people try to screw you, people do screw you — there are interesting complexities to every deal you work on, and you learn from it and become wiser.
Ever turn to a classmate and say, “Hey, there’s a condo in Manhattan with your name on it if you just slip me the answers to this exam?” Uh, no. But I did sell a few condos while I was at Wharton. [laughs] To classmates who were looking, or their parents. Not in exchange for test scores. For checks. [laughs]
I noticed that your beer pong record against Jimmy Fallon on his talk show is 2-0. That’s one of the top 10 skills I picked up at Wharton. It’s safe to say Jimmy, as much as I love him, is not a good beer pong player. He either threw the game or needs to pick up a different hobby.
Who has surprised you as a player on Celebrity Apprentice? Joan Rivers was the most tenacious person I think I’ve ever met. She was substantially older than anyone on the show, and yet she had more stamina than the whole cast put together. Ultimately, that’s why she won.
In your book, you have advice from some high-powered friends, including Tory Burch. Did you two hook up while you were at Penn? No, I actually did not know Tory was from Philly. She’s a friend of mine, and she’s terrific. I have a jewelry line and she has a very successful clothing line, so I’ve known her for some time through that. I asked people I really admire for the single most profound piece of advice they had ever received. Everyone from the founder of W Hotels, Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht, to Chris DeWolfe, the co-founder of MySpace, to Russell Simmons. I found what I learned from them to be pretty amazing.