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Sir Richard Branson

Donald Trump

Battle of the Billionaires

Which money magnet is more successful? It's hard to tell when you're matching up two of the world's richest and most powerful men. Is it the British-born, adventurous risk taker, Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson? Or the New York native, real estate tycoon, and Apprentice guru Donald Trump? Here's the deal...

Born in 1950, Branson caught his first glimmer of power in high school when attending the famous English public school, Stowe. At 17, the good-looking Brit started a national youth magazine called Student, as well as a student advisory center for his classmates at school. At the tender age of 20, this industrious man founded Virgin as a mail-order record retailer. Soon after, he opened a store on Oxford Street, one of England's best shopping thoroughfares. In 1972, he got his big break when Virgin artist Mike Oldfield recorded "Tubular Bells." The attention to his label began to draw in the big names.

In no time, Virgin Records was signing some of the best rockers of all time from the Rolling Stones to Culture Club, Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel, and dozens more. By the 1980s, Virgin was one of the top six record companies internationally.

As if this wasn't enough success, Branson took a chance and followed up on a random offer to start a jet passenger service between London and New York. Though everyone thought he was crazy, in just three months, Branson had contracts signed, staff at hand, and new business just ready to go. In 1984, Virgin Atlantic Airways was born, and it has thrived ever since. In 1992, he even sold his record company to improve his already booming jet business. And, in 1999, he sold a 49% stake to Singapore Airlines to create a unique global partnership.

Now, Virgin has taken over a multitude of labels such as Virgin Trains, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Cola, Virgin Energy, the chain of Virgin Megastores, and Virgin financial services. In 2000, the Queen knighted Branson for his assistance with entrepreneur services. Branson, who is married with two kids and spends most of his time living with his family in London and Oxfordshire, is now ready to pass on his job as the founder and CEO of one of his highly lucrative business. So, Fox TV went ahead and gave him a reality television show to find his successor. The show, Rebel Billionaire, combines two of Branson's favorite things: business and extreme adventure sports. Branson's love for adventure has led him to impressive hot air balloon trips, and the show has taken this love for risk-taking to a whole new and highly public level.

Though a rebel billionaire, Branson is also an avid philanthropist and seems to know the meaning of balance by making business fun. What's next, Sir Branson?

Back in the States, Trump reigns as the business tycoon of the 21st century. Young Donald started his business career in an office he and his father shared in Brooklyn, New York. While working with his father for five years, Trump's skills as a businessman became quite apparent to his father, Fred, who has often said that "some of my best deals were made by my son, Donald... everything he seems to touch turns to gold." Later, Trump shifted to the Manhattan market and became a member of a highly exclusive men's club, making friendships with some of the most affluent New York businessmen and gaining the perfect clientele base for his real estate ventures.

Trump, like Branson, also sped to millionaire status. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Finance, he was making deals on some of the most highly noted buildings in the company. He expanded his ventures to hotels, casinos, and impressive construction projects. Trump has his name on the world-renowned Fifth Avenue skyscraper, Trump Tower, and the luxury residential buildings Trump Park, Trump Palace (the tallest building on the East Side of Manhattan) and The Trump World Tower, Trump Plaza ,and 601 Park Avenue. Furthermore, he has a partnership with NBC for the ownership and broadcast rights for the Miss Teen USA Pageants, Miss USA, and Miss Universe. In his most recent television ventures, Trump has capitalized on the business of reality TV by teaming up with Mark Burnett Productions and NBC to create his show, The Apprentice. As Trump weeds out the best from America's top business men and women, he gives all of his viewers some lessons for the working world. The show rose to #1 status in its first year, receiving rave reviews and has continued on for a second year enjoying just as much, if not more, success.

As if that wasn't enough, Trump has since begun his own magazine, which has drawn even more attention to himself and his ventures from all over the world. He even trademarked his famous phrase from the Apprentice, "You're fired." This has taken his love for branding to even greater heights. He has raised his children to be similarly business-minded, and he even taught his daughter Ivanka the responsibilities of money by making her pay for everything but her college tuition. The budding model and stellar student even pays her own cell phone bill.

Trump has taken business to a whole new level, and his billionaire status definitely rivals that of Richard Branson. Who wins in this Battle of the Billionaires? We'll leave that decision up to you!
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