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By Chris Rose, The Times-Picayune

Donald Trump Jr., who runs the development and acquisitions branch of the Trump empire.
That’s right, the son of Ivana and The Donald. Can you imagine?

Truth is, he seems pretty down to earth. At least, for the guy who runs the development and acquisitions branch of the Trump empire (and also side gigs as one of his dad’s advisers on “The Apprentice”).

Trump Jr. is coming to New Orleans this weekend for a good cause, an American Cancer Society fundraiser called Lympho-Mania. It’s the seventh annual such affair; this year is a ’70s-theme party at Republic New Orleans, 828 S. Peters St., on Saturday. (Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20; $25 at the door. For details, visit

Last year 750 folks turned out and raised $27,000. This year features a dance contest judged by — that’s right — Donald Trump Jr. We talked this week about the meaning of it all — and a little about those plans for a 70-story building on Poydras Street. (‘memba that?)

What are your qualifications to judge a dance contest?

I have absolutely none and I may, in fact, be one of the worst dancers in the history of the world. But as long as I can differentiate between the sounds of the applause, I think I can make a sound judgment call.

What will you look for in a winner?

We’re going to have to look at the costumes and we’re going to have to look at the overall attitude in there, relative to the decade. I may have to brush up on my “Saturday Night Fever” to get up to speed.

What would be the difference between this contest and judging on “The Apprentice”?

There might be a little more pressure on the live finale of “The Apprentice” when you have 10 million-plus viewers watching.

I don’t know about that; I’m picturing 750 New Orleanians drinking and in costume. I’d put that up against anything.

That’s a pretty good point. I never thought of it that way. I do think this will probably be a lot more fun than “The Apprentice.”

You’re a longtime fan of New Orleans, no?

I come down a lot, actually. I come for Jazz Fest and random weekends. And I’m a big fisherman so I come down for a lot of redfishing; not necessarily in New Orleans, but in and around there, places like Venice. But first and foremost, I’m a huge eater. I love food and I think of New Orleans in terms of a culinary destination. When I first stop in there, I usually go to Mother’s and then Galatoire’s, and I get together with friends for crawfish boils. It’s an experience you can’t quite get anywhere else. You can get great Italian in any city in the U.S., you can get great sushi anywhere, but when you get down to Cajun and Creole food, there’s only one place you can get it right.

Spoken like a local. Speaking of which, you and dad have a little property down here. What’s the status of that?

Basically, we’re waiting for the market to make sense. We had big issues around Katrina and we have big reservations about the economy right now, so it certainly doesn’t make sense to go forward right now. But when it does, we have an unbelievably great piece of land and look forward to building a world-class hotel and residential tower in New Orleans.

Does New Orleans’ Byzantine political structure have any effect on your decisions?

Naturally we would be concerned with that reputation, but there is a uniqueness there that makes it such an incredible place — the most unique city in the world — and I don’t think it overrules our ability to try to do something once we get a chance to do it.

You said you’ll do it when the market makes sense. You’re a Captain of Industry — or something like that — so tell us: When will the market make sense?

I wish I had an answer for you. The bottom line is that for the last year, clearly nobody knows what’s going on. I think we can certainly see that by watching congressmen quiz the bankers on CNBC all day long. They ask questions that prove they have no idea what’s going on; they don’t know anything about the banking system. The bankers don’t even know that much about the banking system. But I’m hopeful that by the end of the year there will be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel and we can make our way out of this. Americans have been very resilient throughout history, and every downturn has ultimately turned into a positive.

How’s your 401(k) looking?

Not so good. Honestly, for the last couple months, I haven’t even looked because I don’t want to know.

I think we’re just about out of time. I do have in my notes something about hair, but I don’t think I’m going to go down that road.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Columnist Chris Rose can be reached at; or at 504.352.2535 or 504.826.3309.

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