Donald Trump revealed there were times he “probably should have given up” on his £750million golf resort at Aberdeenshire’s Menie Estate as he accepted his honorary degree yesterday.
But the businessman said he was determined not to and hundreds of letters of support from local residents persuaded him to press ahead with his plans after they were rejected in 2007.
Speaking at the ceremony at the Robert Gordon University, Mr Trump said he was honoured to be recognised by the “great university”, and compared the north-east institution to “the best university in the world”, the Wharton School in Pennsylvania where he studied.
The American told the audience of students, local business leaders, friends and family that his Scottish mother, Mary McLeod Trump, would have been “very proud” of him as he collected the honorary doctorate.
Speaking to around 150 people at the awards ceremony, held at RGU’s faculty of health and social care at Garthdee, Mr Trump said: “When I give speeches, they say can you give tips on how to be successful.
“Today I am going to focus on never quitting. You can really never, ever give up.”
Mr Trump said Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to turn down his plans at a crucial stage three years ago was “an unexpected turn of events” and said he “had to think” about continuing with his plans after the result.
“There were a lot of people, hundreds of people who lived in the area, who wrote to me and said please don't stop,” he said.
“So we never gave up. We made the decision to continue to go forward, and as you know we have now had months of construction, and it is really unbelievable, it will probably be even better than we anticipated.”
Closing his acceptance speech, Mr Trump said: “I went to the Wharton School of finance, and I have always said it is the best business school in the world. But as far as I am concerned Robert Gordon University's business school is just as good.”
Speaking after Mr Trump, university chancellor Sir Ian Wood said the American billionaire’s resort would “put Scotland on the world’s golfing map”.
He said: “Dr Trump, you see the north-east of Scotland as the home for your visionary world-class golf investment which, in spite of a small minority, is welcomed by the people of the north-east , by RGU and by our students.”