Speed Reads

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Trump apparently pressed Forbes for a higher wealth ranking every year for decades

The buzziest part of President Trump's new interview with Forbes staff writer Randall Lane is his suggestion that he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson take an IQ duel to see who's the real "moron." But the article is really about Trump being a dealmaker not a businessman, why that's a different thing, and his fixation on numbers. "Numbers offer Trump validation," Lane writes. "They determine the winner or loser of any deal and establish an industry hierarchy. It's why Trump, more than any of the 1,600 or so people who've been on the Forbes 400, has spent more time lobbying and cajoling Forbes to get a higher valuation — and validation."

Brian Williams asked Lane about that on MSNBC Tuesday night. "We wrestle with him annually," Lane said. "Donald Trump cares more about where he ranks on the Forbes 400 than anyone in our 35-year history." In fact, Lane said, "we used to have at Forbes what we called the 'Donald Trump rule,' which whatever Donald Trump tells you, you divide by three and that probably is what he's really worth."

Williams brought up Trump's IQ challenge, and Lane pulled back for a bigger picture. "Numbers are very important to Donald Trump," he said. "It explains a lot, it explains his obsession about crowd size, it explains why every time there's a bad poll, he attacks the messenger. Donald Trump is somebody — he's a businessman who's always been about the gut. And while we're in an age of Big Data, where most businesses are looking at the data and then making decisions based on the data, Donald Trump is somebody who goes by instinct and gut and then looks for numbers to justify his gut."

That's been a mixed bag for Trump in business. We'll see how it works in politics.