Donald Trump, who will collect $200,000 for speaking at the University at Buffalo on Thursday, intends to donate the money to charity.
That's not because of the controversy that erupted locally over the billionaire's collecting the largest speaking fee ever at the university. That's just his standard procedure.
"I give it all away," Trump said in an interview with The Buffalo News. "Every time I make a speech, I give it away. That's one of the reasons I make speeches. I like giving away money to worthy charities. I get a lot of money, and it is not hard for me to speak, and it works out well. I like going to places, like I'm going to be, and speaking."
Trump is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m. Thursday in Alumni Arena on UB's North Campus, and he notes that UB is getting a bargain, considering he probably makes close to five times that for appearing in one episode of "The Apprentice." The News received several letters complaining about the large fee for Trump.
"How is it controversial, my fee?" asked Trump, who had as many questions as answers during a telephone interview this week. "Except for my respect for the institution, I wouldn't have even done it for that. I have great respect for that institution. I know people who went there -- I'm doing it for that reason. It is New York State. I get much more than that to speak; I actually get $300,000 to speak."
And which charities does he intend to benefit with the fee?
"I give a lot of money to AIDS research, a lot of money to the Police Athletic League. I give a lot of money to a lot of different charities."
Trump said he came to Buffalo a few years ago for a charity event sponsored by retired Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and liked it.
"Jim Kelly is a great friend of mine. He's an amazing guy. I really think he's a special person. He lives up there still, right? That's one of the other reasons I'm doing it for a lot less money than I normally do."
Trump wouldn't give much away about what he plans to say to his audience. Will it be more about business or television?
"I am going to be talking about everything, including television and business," Trump said. "It is a great group of people I'm speaking to. How big is the audience? Very big?"
Trump is the Student Choice Speaker in UB's Distinguished Speakers Series. But the public is invited. As of Tuesday, UB said 4,300 tickets had been sold and a little more than 1,000 remained in all price categories, ranging from $24 to $48 per seat. Discounts of $2 are available to UB alumni, faculty and staff. UB previously said that ticket proceeds and support from more than 20 series sponsors will allow the event to break even.
"We're going to talk about some of the rules of success, some of the rules of succeeding, some of the rules of life," Trump said. "That's what people generally like to hear from me."
Undoubtedly, the audience will hear about the second season of "The Apprentice," which opened three weeks ago.
Trump faces big competition for his audience Thursday. His speech starts an hour before the first nationally televised presidential debate between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry.
"I didn't know that," said Trump, whose NBC series was moved from Thursday to tonight because of the debate. Whom would he watch Thursday?
"Bush and Kerry," Trump said. Why?
"Because I like to be a nice person and say that," Trump said. "Let me ask you, why don't they move it up a little bit or something? I want to watch the debate, too. They should try and move it around a little so we could all go and watch the debate."