Donald Trump Once Gave Richard Branson Unsolicited Advice on Running an Airline

A reposted letter from 2004 suggests the Virgin Group founder "get out of the airline business as soon as possible"

Richard Branson
Donald Trump and Richard Branson from 2002
Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images

Richard Branson’s had some problems keeping his airlines running during our COVID-19 pandemic — admittedly, he’s not alone there.

What he probably doesn’t need is airline advice from Donald Trump. As some background: The president once had his own airline, Trump Shuttle, that only lasted three years. Still, that didn’t stop him from dishing out his business concerns, as was recently highlighted in a letter Branson’s longtime publicist reprinted on social media (h/t Page Six).

Trump’s missive, written in 2004 while Branson was trying to get a reality show off the ground, suggested the Virgin Airlines founder “concentrate on your airline, which I am sure, needs every ounce of your energy. It is obviously a terrible business and I can’t imagine, with fuel prices, etc., that you can be doing any better in it than anyone else.”

The letter isn’t new news — it appeared in Branson’s horribly titled autobiography Finding My Virginity — but the recent context and reposting is interesting. Trump, who had TV success at the time with The Apprentice, seemed irked at the time with Branson’s competing reality show. As he wrote: “Like television, you should try to get out of the airline business too, as soon soon as possible! Actually, I wonder out loud how you can be anywhere close to a billionaire and be in that business. Perhaps the title of your show, The Rebel Billionaire, is misleading?”

To be fair, Branson’s show only last 13 episodes. His airlines, as troubled as they are, are still flying.

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