Warren Buffett and Donald Trump are two of the most famous and successful businessman in both the United States and the world. Both are billionaires and share many similarities, including business acumen, power and celebrity. Both also have nicknames, with Buffett known as the Sage/Oracle of Omaha and Trump simply known as the Donald. But overall, their rise to the top has come from different avenues, with Buffett steadily accumulating wealth over decades and Trump preferring to capitalize on his boldness and celebrity to strike it rich. Below is a more detailed comparison of these two business moguls.
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In terms of wealth, Buffett is far richer than Trump. Trump recently was tied for 153rd place in the Forbes annual ranking of the richest people in America, as of September 2010, with an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion. This is still obviously an impressive figure for a single individual, but paled in comparison to Buffett's estimated net worth of $45 billion, second in the United States after Bill Gates at $54 billion. Internationally, Carlos Slim slipped into the top space with a worth of $74 billion to shift Gates and Buffett to second and third, respectively. Trump ties for 488 in the world ranking. Although this is much lower than Buffett, it places Trump in good company as one of the richest individuals on the planet. (For related reading, see The Value Investor's Handbook.)
Power is a more subjective term, but Buffett's business influence is clearly more considerable given that his vast net worth is tied up mostly in Berkshire Hathaway. Fortune magazine recently ranked Berkshire as the seventh largest firm in the United States, with sales north of $136 billion. In terms of market capitalization, it ranked fifth at nearly $211 billion on March 25, 2011, and was 14th by employees with more than 260,000 individuals technically under Buffett's watch. (For more, see Build A Baby Berkshire.)
Trump presides over a formidable empire the includes the Trump Organization, Trump Plaza Associates and Trump Atlantic City Associates, and focuses on owning and managing a wide array of real estate properties that span casinos, hotels and related businesses and buildings. Further details on Trump are challenging to certify given his businesses are privately held.
Both Buffett and Trump are certainly famous, but Trump's interest in owning the limelight sets him apart from his more successful and wealthy business rival. Trump has written numerous books that started with "Trump: The Art of the Deal" and have progressed with "Trump: Surviving at the Top," "Trump: The Art of Survival," "Trump: The Art of the Comeback," "Trump: How to Get Rich" and, more recently, "Trump Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Success." (If there is one thing Trump knows better than Buffett, it's bankruptcies. For more, see Life After Bankruptcy.)
Trump's television career first started when he became involved with World Wrestling Entertainment and hosted Wrestle Mania events in the early 1990s. He has since starred in the Apprentice on the NBC network, famously firing people as they compete to run one of his businesses. Trump is reportedly paid millions of dollars per episode now that the show has become very successful. More recently, in what could have just been a publicity stunt, it was speculated he would announce a run for the U.S. presidency. However, no official statement was made and Trump later admitted he wouldn't be running.
Buffett has been placed into the limelight as he has grown older, but is still best known for his annual Berkshire shareholder letters and for hosting the Berkshire annual meeting. The annual meeting has come to be known as "Woodstock for Capitalists." He has had some television exposure and is set to have a cameo appearance the Office, which also happens to be on NBC. (For more, see Warren Buffett: How He Does It.)
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The Bottom Line
Despite Buffett's insurmountable lead when it comes to net worth, many individuals would probably rather be Trump given his celebrity and fact he has enough money to last for generations. While Buffett has an uncanny knack to compound wealth steadily, Trump has seen his fair share of ups and downs and a net worth that has stagnated between $2 billion and $3 billion. Although neither man would likely be elected as President, both have used their respective gifts to become successful businessmen. (For related reading, see Why Warren Buffett Envies You.)