Hey, Donald Trump do you really want to be the President?

I have started to wonder how long it will take before Trump "steps out of brand" and fully takes on the prestigious mantle of President of the United States?

The answer, maybe - "Never", judging by this week's performance.

When Trump met Barack Obama at the White House shortly after the November presidential election both politicians put on an extraordinarily civil performance. It was comforting - and confidence building - after months of a polarising election campaign.


But after years of honing his personal brand on the reality television show The Apprentice it seems Trump neither knows how, nor wants, to fully execute the transition to the presidency. Instead he is in full-on celebrity mode using his twitter arsenal to cow foes and replay mindless memes from the election campaign.

His first media conference as president-elect was notable for his concession that Russia did play a part in hacking Hillary Clinton's emails. But what we remember is his slagging off of BuzzFeed as a "failing pile of garbage", his whacking CNN for publishing "fake news" and refusing (again) to release his tax returns because the only people who cared about such transparency were reporters (and because "I won").

At any moment we expected him to point his finger at the American press corps and say, "You're fired."

Sure, he had reason to be riled.

By publishing the salacious contents of a so-called intelligence dossier suggesting Trump may have been the victim of a 'honey trap' while in Russia, BuzzFeed crossed a journalistic line. Other media did not publish the detail because they could not verify it.

As the Washington Post observed, the idea that Russia could have tried to gather "kompromat" on Trump, as such material is known in Russian, does not come as a surprise to long-time Russia watchers.

Trump was forced into outright denials that he or his organisations had links to Russian monies.

As a "germophobe" he wasn't going to engage in the practices outlined in the "dossier" (at least he retained some humour).

But the suggestion was not totally implausible either.

And that is not the only problem he faces.

By continuing to shelter behind private company norms and refusing to publicly disclose his tax returns - something every other president back to Ronald Reagan has done - Trump robs his own presidency of legitimacy. So too, the refusal to put in place a clear conflicts of interest policy.

He is in full-on celebrity mode using his twitter arsenal to cow foes and replay mindless memes from the election campaign.


His dilemma is understandable.

The "Donald Trump" brand alone is worth multimillions of dollars; it's so valuable to Trump that he will only leave his sons and his chief financial officer in charge of the businesses which bear his name for the time he is political leader of the world's most powerful nation.

This soft shoe shuffle over his conflicts of interest policy - he even called on a legal expert to explain it away at his press conference - does not cut it.

Trump is an acknowledged deal-maker and has worked exceptionally hard and risked all to build his property development empire.

But by putting the kids in charge of the show - instead of putting his business assets into a fully-at-arm's-length blind trust - it is obvious he is not prepared to cut the umbilical cord with his empire simply to take up what may be only a four-year stint as President. Contrast this with Rex Tillerson - the former Exxon Mobil CEO who has accepted Trump's invitation to be Secretary of State. Tillerson understands the ethical bottom line. Exxon Mobil said it is cashing up Tillerson's retirement package and putting it into an independent managed trust that can't invest in the energy company.

The difference is that Tillerson has long played in the public company realm where Exxon has had to make detailed financial disclosures.

The Trump Organisation is a private company.

The president-elect continues to believe he can make the rules as he has in his commercial life.

It is a delicate time for businesses in the United States.

Business leaders do not want to get offside with a president-elect who can destroy their own personal brand - or send their company's share prices plummeting - with one of his stinging tweets.

There are far too many policy unknowns: What will replace Obamacare? What will happen to the multilateral rules-based trading system? Will there be a global trade war? What will happen to taxes, the dollar, inflation - and more.

There are (so far) no answers.

The counter-balance to these negatives is that Trump has appointed some stellar candidates among the nominees to his Cabinet.

Those who have already taken part in the Senate hearings were sufficiently their own men to spell out their concerns with Vladimir Putin's Russia (maybe Trump is not Putin's Manchurian Candidate after all). And in Tillerson's case it was clear he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It's my hope that these mainly men retain their testicular fortitude when the Trump Cabinet gets down to business.

And that Trump resists the temptation to say "You're fired" if their retain their viewpoints.