Flashy Symbol of an Acquisitive Age: DONALD TRUMP

Young, handsome and ridiculously rich, DONALD TRUMP loves making deals and money, loathes losing and has an ego as big as the Ritz -- er, Plaza

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For all the wealth, their life is an austere one in some ways. Ivana goes on skiing vacations once or twice a year, but although Trump joined her at Aspen over the Christmas holidays, he generally doesn't like vacations. "I like to do business," he says. "Work is the pleasure of my life."

He goes out to dinners and parties four or five nights a week, sometimes with Ivana and sometimes without, but these are mostly official or charity affairs. "Donald is au courant about everything," says real estate dealer Alice Mason, who often encounters him on such occasions. Others can be warm in their praises. "As a friend, he's a real softy and very sweet," says opera star Beverly Sills. But Trump admits that he doesn't much enjoy the party life. "I hate going out on Sundays," he says. "I don't like going out on Monday nights either. I'm not sure I like going out any night." When Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump's memoirs, quoted him as saying "I hate small talk," Trump changed it to read, "I absolutely hate small talk."

Asked what he would prefer as an evening's entertainment, Trump bluntly says, "Staying home." To curl up with a good book? Well, he did read Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, which deals with a lot of rich New Yorkers who pursue such vanities as charity dinners at Trumpian apartments. Trump reports that he also recently read Gorbachev's Perestroika. "It was not the most exciting book I ever read, and I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I felt I had an obligation to read it," he recalls. He does not believe, though, that he needs many such exercises to get on in the world. "I can sit down with the most sophisticated people in the arts in New York and get along fabulously with them," he says. "If I want to, I can convince them that I know as much about something as they do, and I don't." How does he do that? "It's a feeling, an aura that you create."

If this seems a little strange, it is all part of the Trump grand strategy, which he does not want examined too closely by himself or anyone else. "I have an absolute strategy, but it's an innate strategy and not definable," he says. "When you start studying yourself too deeply, you start seeing things that maybe you don't want to see. And if there's a rhyme and reason, people can figure you out, and once they can figure you out, you're in big trouble."

One man who knows Trump well does see a rhyme and reason. Trump is a brilliant dealmaker with almost no sense of his own emotions or his own ( identity, this man says. He is a kind of black hole in space, which cannot be filled no matter what Trump does. Looking toward the future, this associate foresees Trump building bigger and bigger projects in his attempts to fill the hole but finally ending, like Howard Hughes, a multibillionaire living all alone in one room.

"Hey, life is life," says Donald Trump, whose coiffed blond hair is just beginning to gray at the temples. "We're here for a short time. When we're gone, most people don't care, and in some cases they're quite happy about it."

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