From Talk Shows to Takeovers

Merv Griffin, empire builder, guns for Donald Trump

He seems a most unlikely tycoon. But Merv Griffin, the chunky, eternally cheerful and perfectly tanned TV personality who was host of 5,520 talk shows during a 23-year on-air career, is precisely that. In the past two weeks, in fact, Griffin, 62, has shown the mettle of a super-tycoon by taking on a formidable foe: Donald Trump, 41, the billionaire New York City developer.

Griffin is trying to wrest Resorts International, the Atlantic City-based hotel and casino operator, from Trump. The developer, Resorts' chairman since last year, has been buying shares in the company and bidding for the rest. His aim...

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