‘I doubt you’re a real billionaire!’ Richard Branson reveals what Donald Trump told him

Frenemies: Branson met Trump in the 1990s, but reveals the two had a spat after the Virgin mogul launched his own reality TV show in 2004 around the same time as Donald's. Trump, Melania - then his girlfriend and now first lady - and Branson are pictured in 2002Richard Branson has revealed the scathing letter he received from Donald Trump back when the two moguls were hosting rival reality TV shows in the early noughties.

The Virgin magnate, who has openly spoken against the president and his policies, tells of their long-running feud in his new autobiography, Finding My Virginity.

Richard Branson, 67,cZ

The bitter exchange took place in 2004 after the British businessman launched his ill-fated American reality television series, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best, around the same time The Apprentice made its debut.

Branson’s show was strikingly similar to Trump’s, following budding entrepreneurs on challenges around the world as they vied to become the next president of Virgin.

Trump, who had just launched The Apprentice, reportedly 'did not take kindly to having a rival' and urged Branson to quit his TV gig because he had 'no television persona' and his ratings were 'dismal'

Branson was on Fox while Trump was a ratings-winner for NBC.

According to Branson, Trump ‘did not take kindly to having a rival, however friendly and well-meaning.’

In fact, The Donald was so unimpressed with the show, he fired off a nasty letter in which he urged Branson to quit his television gig.

In a subtle blow, Branson replied to Trump assuring him he made over $2 billion in personal shares in Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue.  Branson writes that he did not receive a response from Trump for another decade, suggesting he may have been 'added to the list

Not one to mince words, Trump offered his unsolicited advice telling Branson he has ‘no television persona and, as I found out with others a long time ago, if it’s not there there’s not a thing in the world you can do about it.’

The note, dated November 12, 2004, goes on to question Branson’s billionaire status and urges him to abandon his airline business as well.

‘At least your dismal ratings can now allow you to concentrate on your airline which, I am sure, needs every ounce of your energy.

It is obviously a terrible business and I can’t imagine, with fuel prices etc., that you can be doing any better in it than anyone else,’ Trump wrote.

‘Like television, you should try to get out the airline business too, as soon as possible! Actually, I wonder out loud how you can be anywhere close to a billionaire and be in that business.

Perhaps the title of your show, The Rebel Billionaire, is misleading?

‘In any event, do not use me to promote your rapidly sinking show – you are a big boy, try doing it yourself!


Donald J. Trump.’

Trump’s letter seemed to have been prompted by media buzz in which Branson writes he was often ‘inevitably’ asked about how his show differed from Donald’s.

In interviews, he maintained his program was different because of their ‘contrasting personas’ and how his show was ‘more about adventure and entrepreneurship than confrontation and boardroom dealing.’

Trump, however had no qualms about bad-mouthing his rival to the press, according to Branson. Read more dailymail





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