A waiter presented us with fruit plates at our hidden table in the Four Seasons' Verandah. I looked over at Donald Trump, and he told me about the nasty thing he witnessed the night before.
Trump, noted germ-averter, had gone to a ballroom soiree for TV executives and admonished a partier for "double-dipping" at a shrimp buffet.
"This guy weighed like 400 pounds, sort of a crude guy, an executive," Trump recounted. "I said, 'Hey you (expletive), you just double-dipped! You just ate it -- then you put it back in!"
The double-dipper responded, "You're right. That's probably not nice." To which Trump exclaimed, "Not nice?!"
Trump and I were brunching with a table full of "Apprentice" insiders. He had come to Las Vegas with more than shrimp and fruit on his plate. He addressed a convention of TV executives regarding the March 14 return of "Celebrity Apprentice." And he checked up on Trump Towers.
I asked how Trump Towers was doing. Trump looked me in the eyes, never glancing elsewhere, never stammering.
"We sold a billion dollars worth of apartments. But people couldn't close. We closed over $300 million. The good news is I built it under budget, ahead of schedule. I really did a good job.
"We really have a small mortgage on a very big building," he said. "We have a good occupancy, although the town is way down. We walked around last night ... and you could shoot a cannon through the streets."
He won't build a second tower, as he had originally planned.
"We're not gonna do that."
Trump isn't sure if he would try to buy any MGM Mirage hotels if MGM Mirage sells more properties, as it did last year by selling Treasure Island to Trump's business friend Phil Ruffin.
"We'll see what happens with MGM. MGM is going to be a reflection of what happens with CityCenter, and I hope it does really well, because I'm a big fan of Kirk" Kerkorian, the MGM titan.
I complained about the unremarkable facade of MGM Mirage's extravagant new CityCenter. Trump agreed while cutting it slack.
"It's like an office building," Trump said after sipping a glass of guava-peach juice. "It's always tough when you use numerous architects on a job and try to meld them together. ... I know they tried very hard."
We began discussing his TV show when a surprise visitor came calling. Michael Irvin -- the Hall of Fame football receiver; "Dancing with the Stars" contestant; and NFL Network talker -- walked over from a nearby table to say hello. Trump beamed.
"This is one of the great athletes of all time!" Trump told the table.
Trump asked Irvin: Who will win Sunday's Super Bowl? Irvin picked the Indianapolis Colts but made a case for the Saints, of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
"I would love for New Orleans to win the Super Bowl," Irvin said. "Winning the Super Bowl will help build that city from the inside."
Trump pointed out the Saints' pass defense was ranked a lowly 27th. (He's close: They were ranked 26th during the regular season, according to NFL.com.) Then the two men traded thoughts on the greatness of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Irvin declared of all those who aspire: "I know you played great, but were you great enough to make others play great?"
Irvin talked with the happy gusto of a motivational speaker. Trump turned to his "Apprentice" producer and insisted, "We should put him in the 'Apprentice!'"
"You guys aren't ready for me," Irvin said and laughed. "I would be holding meetings and telling them, 'I've won championships on every level, you know why? Because we were ONE HEARTBEAT!' I would MOVE them."
"Anytime you want," Trump said. "You're fantastic!"
Trump also used superlatives to introduce Irvin to me: "This is the biggest entertainment writer there is!"
I told Irvin I'm picking the Saints, 38-17.
"I hope so. I hope so," Irvin said.
Trump asked another football question:
"I watch Terrell Owens say, 'I'm better than Jerry Rice ever was.' I've seen that guy drop so many frickin' passes," Trump said. "I never saw Jerry Rice drop an important pass. I never saw YOU drop an important pass."
Irvin said, "I tried to teach T.O. the difference in why he's dropping the ball. He's a little rigid" from fear.
"Courage is not saying, 'I didn't have any fear.' Courage is saying, 'I had the ability to overcome my fears.'
"So I told T.O., 'When you're going across the middle, you're dropping balls because you're catching them here (at the midriff), because you read it in a book.' I said, 'Catch it here in your hands.'
"'And when you're in crowds of (oncoming defenders), your eyes are going to blink,'" Irvin said. "'You're going to tense up. So whenever you're in a crowd, body it up. Now, when you get smacked in the mouth -- and you WILL get smacked in the mouth -- (the defender) knocks the ball ON you.'"
Trump asked, "Did he listen?"
"Absolutely not," Irvin said and smiled. "Then I tried to give (the same advice) to Roy Williams -- absolutely not. Then I just said, 'OK, you guys don't appreciate my records, so let me leave you alone.'"
"We think the game is played shoulders down," he said. "In the NFL, the game is really played shoulders up, if you're going to be a real star."
With that, that real star turned his broad shoulders and bid farewell. The other real star turned his broad shoulders toward his entourage of producers and publicists and glowed: "We should send him a check for that!"
Doug Elfman's column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.