Born in New York in 1946, Trump was still in nappies when his father Fred began paying into a trust fund for his offspring. Trump’s share was about $12,000 a year - even as a baby, Trump enjoyed an income four times the value of a typical family.
Fred Christ Trump had made his money in real estate, building family homes in the New York borough of Queens, and US naval barracks along the east coast of the US.
It would be claimed he took kickbacks of cash in envelopes to hand out contracts and in 1954 when Donald was just eight, would even be investigated by a US senate committee for profiteering from public contracts.
At the age of 21, Fred was arrested for involvement in a riot in Queens in which the Ku Klux Klan had fought fascist supporters loyal to Benito Mussolini. Fred, according to a news report of the day, was one of the arrested men who were wearing the white robes of the Klan at the time.
When he died in 1999 at the age of 93, Fred Trump left in his will - bitterly disputed by the family and more of which later - almost $300 million. Donald, his second eldest son but his father’s favourite, would again reap the rewards.
It’s not surprising then that Trump told his supporters in his victory speech: “First I want to thank my parents who I know are looking down on me right now. Great people. I’ve learned so much from them. They were wonderful in every regard. I had truly great parents.”
While his mother Mary Anne Macleod arrived in New York from the isle of Lewis in the Hebrides in 1930, Fred Trump, whom she married six years later, was the son of a German immigrant.
The Trump family - originally Drumpf but changed to Trump at some point in the 17th century - came from the south west of Germany. Friedrich Trump, the president-elect’s grandfather, skipped Germany to avoid military service in 1885 and got on a steamer to New York.
He made his way to Seattle opening a restaurant with a brothel attached before moving to Canada to cash in on the Klondike gold rush. He would open a bar and again procure prostitutes. Friedrich briefly moved back to Germany where he met and married Elizabeth Christ, a “well-endowed blonde” 12 years his junior.
David Cay Johnston, an investigative journalist who has written a devastating biography of Trump, remarked in The Making of Donald Trump: “Trump men favouring busty blondes would become a family pattern.”
There are other traits picked up by Trump. Like his grandfather, the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief would also dodge military service, albeit some 80 years later, avoiding the Vietnam draft after a doctor fortunately discovered a bone spur in his foot.
Avoiding the Vietnam war, Trump attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in economics, before joining the family firm. He claimed to be worth on graduation $200,000. Trump would benefit from his elder brother Fred Jnr’s lack of interest in their father’s business dealings. Fred Jnr, dashingly handsome, lacked the killer instinct, profit at all costs, drive of his father.
Instead he became an airline pilot, marrying an airline stewardess that his father did not approve of. But he gave up his job because of his alcoholism and died of the addiction in 1981 at the age of 43.
Trump has said he is teetotal as a consequence of witnessing his brother’s demise. Again in his victory speech Trump praised his elder brother: “I also want to thank... my late brother Fred, great guy, fantastic guy.”
When Fred Trump senior died in 1999, Fred Jnr’s children were left out of the will entirely. It led to a bitter legal action in which it was claimed that in retaliation for bringing the action, Trump, acting along with his siblings Robert and Maryanne, withheld payments for $300,000 of medical care for one of Fred Jnr’s grandsons, a baby suffering from a neurological condition that produces violent seizures.
Trump was unrepentant. “Why should we give him medical coverage?” he told a New York Daily News reporter in 2000. When the reporter asked him if he feared he might come across as cold-hearted, given the baby’s medical condition, Trump replied: “I can’t help that. It’s cold when someone sues my father. Had he come to see me, things could very possibly have been much different for them.”
By the time of Fred Jnr’s death in 1981, Trump had already taken over the family business, renaming it the Trump Organization. He had also inherited a seemingly insatiable appetite for young women, although David Cay Johnson in his biography questions Trump’s abilities at both, suggesting that both “Trump the Modern Midas” and “Trump the Great Don Juan” are creations of his own public relations making. Psychologists have wondered if he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder.
Trump’s alleged sexual harassment of women over the years became a major theme of the election, threatening briefly to derail him, while his (dis)regard for women - he vilified one former female employee as “ugly as a dog” - was also well aired during the campaign.
In business, he is accused of exaggerating his successes. Between 1991 and 2009, hotel and casino business owned by Trump have been declared bankrupt six times.
A leaked tax return from 1995 showed his business empire had made an astonishing loss of $916 million, meaning he under federal rules he may have escaped paying income tax for the next 18 years.
Trump married Ivana Zelníčková in 1977 and six years later had built Trump Tower, a 58-storey skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, close to Central Park. Trump, with his beautiful, Czech-born wife on his arm, and with his skyscraper in his property portfolio had well and truly arrived at the heart of big, brash New York society.
They had three children - Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric - but the marriage ended in acrimony in 1991 when Ivana discovered Trump was having an affair with Marla Maples. Ivana would walk away with a reported $20 million settlement while Trump married Miss Maples two years later, the six-year marriage producing a daughter, Tiffany.
He married his third and current wife Melania Knavs, a glamour model from Slovenia, in 2005. They have one child Barron.
In 2003, Trump, with his bouffant combover hair as his trademark, cemented his celebrity by starring in the US version of the reality television programme The Apprentice with claims that during his 14 seasons hosting the show, he earned almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
He was sacked from the show in June last year over offensive comments about immigrants but by then Trump had set his sights on the White House.
It wasn’t his first tilt at power. He had considered running for president in 1988 on the Republican ticket, again in 2000 as a candidate for the fringe Reform Party and again as a Republican in 2004 and 2012.
The drive for running this time is said to stem from humiliation at the hands of Barack Obama at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Trump had been one of the leading conspiracy theorists claiming Obama was not born in America. But at the dinner, Obama displayed his American birth certificate on a video screen. Then turning to Trump, he said: “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald.
And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
The audience was in stitches while Trump sat stony faced. He is notoriously thin-skinned and it may just be that one incident that spurred him to run one more time for the highest office. Obama isn’t laughing now.