Donald Trump spoke with TIME's Nancy Gibbs, Michael Scherer and Zeke J. Miller on Nov. 28 at Trump Tower in New York City. The following excerpts are from an interview for TIME's Person of the Year issue.
HOW TRUMP WILL MEASURE SUCCESS
I think we’re going to have a lot of jobs brought back. I think we’re going to have a lot fewer companies leaving our country. I believe we will be successful with defeating ISIS or bringing them down to a level where it’s almost the same thing. And I hope I’m judged from the time of the election, as opposed to from January 20th, because the stock market has had a tremendous bounce. And people are seeing very good things for business in this country. So I think we’re going to have a lot of victories.
HOW TRUMP SEES AMERICA
As somebody who loves this country — it’s a very large country but it’s also an even more powerful country than the numbers. Because if you look at China and India and you have others with more people, but when you look at what we do in this country, it’s the most incredible place on Earth. Most incredible place ever. And we were losing that. And I don’t want to lose that. And the people that voted for me, we call them the forgotten men and women. These are great people, these are people that built this country, and they’ve been forgotten. They’re people that work hard, that they’re people that love the country. And they didn’t like what was happening.
COMPANIES MOVING JOBS OUTSIDE AMERICA
I want to get a list of companies that have announced they’re leaving. I can call them myself five minutes apiece, they won’t be leaving. Okay. It’s hard when they say the foundations are already in. That’s tough.
I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what’s happened with drug prices.
I said to Tim Cook, it’s my ambition to get Apple to build a great plant, your biggest and your best, even if it’s only a foot by a foot bigger than some place in China.
Well sometimes you have to prime the pump. So sometimes in order to get the jobs going and the country going, because look, we’re at 1% growth.
I was taking to the head of a major country, because most of them have called me and I’ve talked to all of them. ‘Yes, we are doing not well, not well. Our GDP is only 4.5%.’ I said wow, if our GDP was 4.5% we’d be the happy – I mean our GDP is probably less than 1% if you think about it. And going in the wrong direction.
We’re going to build the wall. I’m going to build the wall. We’re going to have strong borders. But we’re also going to have people coming across the borders because we need workers.
We have to be able to have people come in to our country, because that’s good for all of us. It’s good for them, but it’s good for all of us. But we’re going to have very strong borders. We’re not going to have illegals coming in. But we’re going to have people coming in, but we’re also going to have them coming in based to a certain extent on merit.
I want Dreamers for our children also. We’re going to work something out. On a humanitarian basis it’s a very tough situation. We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. But that’s a very tough situation.
He really cares about the country, I have to say. I mean I differ with him in numerous things. But he really cares about the country. I had a great conversation with him.
I had a great meeting with him at the White House and a couple of great conversations. He – you know he’s very committed. And you hear all different – I will tell you, I really liked him, I think he liked me. I think he was surprised also.
There was good chemistry. But that being said, we differ on things, so that can happen.
We talked about some of the potential appointments that I would make. I wanted to get his opinion. And he gave me some opinions on some people that were very interesting to me, and that meant something to me. I believe in asking people.
We have different views but he loves our country. And he wants what’s good for our country. So I did talk to him about certain people that I’m thinking about. Got his ideas.
HOW TRUMP CONNECTS WITH AMERICANS
I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen. And yet I represent the workers of the world. And they love me and I love them. But when I was in Brooklyn I worked for my father on construction sites where he built houses or what he built, a building in Brooklyn. And I got to understand the construction workers and the police. These are great people. These are the people that built the country.
Others try to hide their wealth. I mean I could tell you other candidates that have money, they’ll go around and they’ll get into a bad car just before they get to a rally. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in that. Because I think aspiration’s a very important word. I think people aspire to do things. And they aspire to watch people. I don’t think they want to see the president carrying his luggage out of Air Force One. And that’s pretty much the way it is.
RUSSIA AND THE U.S. ELECTION
I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.’
Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart.
It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.
I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.
I think in terms of the European Union, other people are being forced into countries and some people are unhappy about it. You look at Germany and millions of people going into Germany. And Germany was always sort of just the opposite. But millions of people. And it has been a tough period of time. Crime has been terrible, what’s going on. And a lot of bad things are happening.
You look at Paris, you look at Paris is not the same Paris that I knew years ago. And Paris is not the same Paris that my friends knew who used to travel there all the time and now won’t go there.
I don’t think there’s one way of leading people. I think if you talk — and I mention him because he was so great to me — but if you mention, like, a great leader is a Coach Belichick. I guarantee you he deals with different people in a different way.
He’ll deal with Tom Brady differently than he’s going to deal with some rookie that just came in, and they don’t know whether or not he’s going to make it. It’s a different form of leadership.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.