Goldflinger: where did Donald Trump's Midas touch come from?

For someone who demanded to know the background of the President of the United States, Donald Trump appears to keep the finer details of his own story tightly under wraps.

The real-estate mogul and reality television star has plenty to say about himself, having written or contributed to no fewer than 15 books covering everything from business deals to golf, but there are few recent in-depth profiles written by others.

He is a father to Donald Trump II - who called his first son Donald Trump III

Trump, who today announced his decision not to run in the 2012 presidential election race, was born in Queens, New York, in 1946, the son of Fred Trump, a wealthy developer and founder of the Trump Organisation.

According to a 2007 profile published in The Guardian he attended the New York Military Academy in 1959, before going to Fordham University in 1964 and then the University of Pennsylvania.

News website reported that several references to him graduating first in his class at Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania appear to be untrue.

Trump told New York Fox affiliate WNYW that during this time he was lucky to miss out on being drafted to serve in Vietnam because he had a high lottery number.

"I was going to the Wharton School of Finance, and I was watching as they did the draft numbers and I got a very, very high number and those numbers never got up to," he said.

But ABC news reported that Selective Service records showed Trump was given several student deferments and a medical deferment between 1964 and 1968.

He joined his father's business in 1968 and some of his earliest projects included revitalising Cincinnati's Swifton Village apartments, putting $US500,000 into the property and selling it for $US6.75 million in 1972, according to the local paper.

He then took on the Manhattan real-estate market, with one of his best-known early projects turning the Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt.

According to a Forbes timeline, Trump invested in casinos and football throughout the 1980s, as well as enraging New York art lovers by destroying sculptures to make way for Trump Tower.

Other renowned properties include Trump World Tower, Trump Park Avenue and the gleaming Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

In his own online biography, Trump quotes his father as saying "some of my best deals were made by my son, Donald ... everything he touches turns to gold".

But that wasn't true of all his future business ventures.

Forbes reported Trump opened the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in 1980, which "wobble[d] out of bankruptcy" two years later.

Time magazine's "Top 10 Donald Trump failures" also covers some of the stumbling blocks Trump has encountered throughout his career.

In the late 1980s, Trump bought a fleet of Boeing 747s and landing facilities to run hourly flights between Boston, New York and Washington, DC.

The planes were fitted with wooden floors, chrome seat belt buckles and gold bathroom fittings.

Soon after, the airline went bust and he was forced to default on his loans.

He may have written How To Get Rich, but Trump is also familiar with bankruptcy.

Time reported the banks that backed his real-estate investments put together a $65 million bailout package in 1990, but nine months later he was almost $4 billion in debt.

Financial trouble continued throughout the 1990s and Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and again in 2009, when the business was known as Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Other failures listed in Time included his hair and his marriages - Trump has been married three times.

In 2000 Trump considered running for president, telling The Guardian one of his priorities would have been solving "the problems in the Middle East".

Trump began hosting The Apprentice in 2004 and became famous for his phrase "You're fired".

He is a father to Donald Trump II - who called his first son Donald Trump III - Ivanka and Eric from his first marriage to Ivana Trump; Tiffany from his marriage to Marla Maples and Barron William Trump to his current wife Melania.

According to Forbes, he is worth more than $2.5 billion and is ranked 420th on the world's list of billionaires.