Video: Only a multimillionaire?

updated 5/18/2009 8:52:44 PM ET 2009-05-19T00:52:44

Donald Trump is known for putting a positive spin even on news that doesn’t seem positive. But there is one way to get him down: Call him a millionaire.

Trump, who says he’s a billionaire, is suing the author of a book in which three unnamed sources said Trump’s net worth is between $150 million and $250 million. The Donald claims it was malicious, and it hurt his business.

A judge said Monday that she would rule within two months on whether the real estate mogul’s lawsuit against writer Timothy L. O’Brien should be dismissed before it gets a chance to go to trial.

Neither man was in Superior Court in Camden for a hearing on the matter Monday.

For years, articles have questioned Trump’s true net worth. But when O’Brien’s “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald,” came out in 2005, Trump decided to act. He filed a lawsuit claiming that his reputation and brand were damaged and that he missed out on business opportunities because of it.

Trump said O’Brien, now an editor at The New York Times, knew the lower estimates were not true and that it was malicious to include them.

In a December 2007 deposition in the case, Trump says his true net worth is harder to calculate because it includes the value of the Trump brand.

“My net worth fluctuates and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings,” he said. “Even my own feelings.”

He said, for instance, that he felt his brand as a developer was worth less right after the 9/11 attacks.

In the same deposition, Trump acknowledged that he sometimes exaggerates — including when he said, after the book’s publication, that his business was doing as well as ever.

“You wouldn’t tell a reporter you’re doing poorly,” he explained. “If I’m doing poorly, I’d rather not comment.”

On Monday, Trump’s lawyer, William Tambussi, told Judge Michele Fox that O’Brien knew that including a value of Trump’s worth would get attention “so he could sell more books.”

O’Brien’s lawyer, Andrew Ceresney, told the judge that Trump’s claims were false because the net worth numbers were not made maliciously, because Trump can’t prove that he lost business as a result — and that there’s nothing hurtful about the claim.

“If someone came in here and said, ’Mr. Ceresney, you’re worth $150 million to $250 million,’ I think I’d feel pretty good,” he told the judge. “I wouldn’t call that defamation.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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