The Republican presidential front runner's children praise their dad (and mom Ivana!) for giving them their strong work ethic, instilling them with good values and always being there for them

By K.C. Baker
Updated September 23, 2015 01:10 PM
Ian MacNicol/Getty

Having worked alongside his father, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, for the past 10 years, Eric Trump says he knows that his dad will turn the country around.

“I think my father will be a very direct president, to say the least,” Eric, 31, told PEOPLE at the Ninth Annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational & Auction Dinner, which raised more than $2.2 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Z100 radio star Elvis Duran hosted the evening, and former Celebrity Apprentice star and comedian Gilbert Gottfried performed.

“My father is saying what everybody thinks, but is afraid to,” says Eric, who works with his brother, Donald, Jr., 37, and his sister, Ivanka, 33, at The Trump Organization. “He is a straight shooter. He has a personality that’s larger than life. He is smart, charismatic and pragmatic. He built a great company. He would do an incredible job as the leader of this nation. I think that a lot of nonsense that goes on will end in about two seconds. We’re so proud of him.”

One of his father’s goals, said Eric, is to improve how other countries view America. “I think we will gain a lot of respect back as a country with my father as president,” he said. “Half of my life is spent in foreign countries. He has also been everywhere in the world.

“But when I go to these places, I see that we don’t have the same respect that I remember us having as a nation when I was there years ago,” he said. “America is not treated the same way anymore. It’s because we are being bullied by people who quite frankly don’t have the standing to bully us.”

Growing Up Trump

Even though his father is a billionaire, starting as a teenager, Eric worked on a construction site every summer, doing everything from demoing walls to electrical work. “He spoiled us in the right way. He gave us great educations, but he also expected us to work – and at minimum wage,” said Eric. “If you wanted a fishing rod? You bought that yourself.”

Having to work didn’t give him and his siblings much free time because “type-A kids with a lot of time on their hands is a very, very bad combination. We would be asleep by 8 o’clock at night because we were exhausted from working all day.”

Their father (and mother, Ivana Trump) expected them to do well in school, too. “There was no slacking off,” he told PEOPLE. “He set high expectations for us. He didn’t micromanage us by any means, but he would be incredibly disappointed if we didn’t do well, and we were always great students.” (Eric graduated from Georgetown University. Ivanka and Don Jr. graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.)

“We weren’t that family that would ever go out and dance on bars – that just wasn’t us, and it still isn’t us,” he says. “We’re the first people to work in the morning, and we’re the last people to leave. He instilled a great work ethic in us. We love what we do and he’s a great father.”

According to Ivanka, “My father has been an incredible role model to me as a parent and as a mentor to me as a boss, so I feel very lucky to have had him as my father. He is my greatest cheerleader as well. My mother is remarkable parent, too, so I feel blessed to have two wonderful parents.”

The way she was raised helps her parent daughter Arabella Rose Kushner, 4, and son Joseph Frederick Kushner, who turns 2 next month, with husband Jared Kushner.

“They really have given me a lot to think about since I am a parent now myself and will instill in my children the values my parents taught me. I definitely respect and appreciate them so much more than when I was a teenager!”

Trump’s ex-wife Ivana praised him as a parent and a co-parent after their 1992 divorce. “I was very lucky because after the divorce I had total custody of the children, but the kids could see their father any time they wanted to,” she said. “He loves them so much. They were very close when they were growing up and still are.”

“But when the kids came out of the universities at 21, I said to him, ‘I’m giving you the end product. Now it is your job to do.’ They started working for him and still do. They are happy, and he is happy.”

Not only do they work together and see each other every day, which is such a blessing, they all vacation together, said Eric’s wife, Lara: “On the weekends, we hang out together. It’s really special. They really are so close.”

Ivanka said that not only is her father “a great source of inspiration for me,” so is her youngest brother, who started his foundation when he was fresh out of college that has, since 2006, raised millions for St. Jude. “He knew right away what he wanted to do and to see what he is accomplishing each year is mind blowing,” she said.

Duran, who has helped raise more than $500,000 for ETF and St. Jude, said he couldn’t agree more. “He has done so much for St. Jude and has turned us all on to the miracles that they do there,” says Duran, whose Elvis Trumps Cancer team is participating in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer for the third year in a row on Sept. 26.

Of Eric, said Duran: “He should run for president, too!”