Who: The brash, often obnoxious chairman of the advertising agency founded by his dad, Deutsch is an inescapable media presence these days: He's a talking head on MSNBC, the former host of CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and a bestselling author.
Backstory: Donny's father, David Deutsch, started a small ad agency called David Deutsch Associates in 1969. Donny, a native of Hollis Hills in Queens, took a job at the company shortly after graduating from Wharton. Unfortunately, he didn't take his work very seriously, and was almost immediately fired by his dad for slacking off on the job. David Deutsch eventually rehired Donny on the creative side and following his dad's retirement in the early 1990s, Deutsch Jr. took the helm of the agency. Promptly dropping David's name from the letterhead, he renamed it Deutsch, Inc. and set about carving out a rep as one of the most aggressive agencies in town. With a team of young, creative staffers on board (mostly "Jews, chicks, and fags" in Donny's words), Deutsch Inc. grew exponentially during the '90s thanks to the addition of blue-chip clients like Bank of America, Ikea, Domino's, Pfizer, Mitsubishi, Old Navy, and Revlon.
By the time Donny cashed out in 2000, selling to Interpublic for a reported $300 million, Deutsch Inc. had 1,000 employees and more than $2 billion in annual billings. While still nominally chairman of the agency, these days Donny busies himself working on Donny Deutsch, the brand.
Of note: Since offloading his agency, Deutsch has been on a mission to achieve star status outside of advertising. In 2004, he began hosting a nightly show on CNBC, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which debuted as a general talk show but later transitioned into business-oriented self-help fare and was eventually canceled in 2008. He's since become a regular on MSNBC (although he was taken off the air for several months in 2010 after making unflattering comments about Keith Olbermann), and remains a seasonal ritual on good pal Donald Trump's The Apprentice. But he keep busy in other forms of media, too. Deutsch is the author of a handful of books and pens a regular column for Gotham magazine (it's called "Deutsch Mark.") He's also dabbled in film production, too, setting up his own production company several years ago.
Not all of his efforts to raise his profile have gone according to plan. In addition to his failed talk show, there was a "youth culture advertising" company he founded with fellow Hollis-native Russell Simmons called dRush which went bust in 2002. And an attempt to buy New York magazine in 2003 with several partners was unsuccessful. Deutsche also seems to be making minimal headway in his longstanding promise (threat) to run for mayor. Despite first floating the notion back in 2003, Deutsch has yet to pursue the idea any further.
In print: Deutsch published his first book, Often Wrong, Never in Doubt, in 2005. (The tome offers plenty of potty-mouthed advice to entrepreneurs on how they might "Unleash the Business Rebel Within"-one of the chapters is titled, "Sometimes You Have To Be A Dickhead.") He followed up with The Big Idea: How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the Aha Moment to Your First Million in 2008.
Drama: Donny's aggressive approach and frat boy antics earned him a good deal of resentment in the industry during the '90s. But it seems he's a little less easygoing when the joke's on him. Several years ago, when a Deutsch Inc. art director posted a photo of a youthful Donny clad in a Speedo on the Internet, he was promptly fired. Of course, Deutsch staffers were already inured to the sight of Donny half-naked: He reportedly sits in his office with his shirt off and a set of weights by his side. Since shedding more than 50 pounds in the 1990s, Deutsch has turned to buffing up, which probably explains why he told New York, "I can kick the ass of any CEO in advertising."
Personal: Known to have something of a wandering eye, Donny separated from his second wife, Stacy Josloff, in 2005. He's since had a baby, Daisy, with his ex-girlfriend Amanda Zacharia, a New York real estate broker. In 2008, his love made the local papers after a jilted husband hired a private investigator to check if his wife was cheating on him and the PI discovered that the wife was romantically involved with Deutsch.
Habitat: Deutsch paid $21 million for a townhouse on East 78th Street in 2006. (He spent years renovating it and occupied an apartment at Trump Park Avenue—for a reported $65,000 a month—during the construction process.) In the fall of 2010, he sold his 3.3-acre beachfront estate off Further Lane in East Hampton for $30 million. He paid $29 million for the property in 2007.
No joke: Shortly after college, Deutsch appeared on the TV game show The Match Game. He ended up winning $5,000.
Full Name: Donald Jay Deutsch
Date of Birth: 11/22/1957
Place of Birth: Queens, NY
High School: Van Buren High School
Undergrad: University of Pennsylvania
Residence(s): New York, NY (Midtown); East Hampton, NY
Filed Under: Advertising, Media, Television