Donald Trump’s election as president shocked a lot of people — pollsters, reporters, and voters who thought Hillary Clinton had the race in hand and saw Trump as an impulsive, unconventional candidate who ultimately lucked into the job.

A new book, though, argues that Trump’s ascent was not accidental, but carefully planned since as early as 1999. The Method to the Madness, written by Allen Salkin and University of Pennsylvania alumnus Aaron Short, traces how Trump’s early experience with New York City tabloid reporters, the Reform Party movement, and national exposure on The Apprentice schooled him in mastering the media, populism, and showmanship.

The book is an oral history compiled almost entirely from interviews of 141 people. Here are a few takeaways.

Trump talked about a presidential run in a 1999 interview at Penn

In November 1999, Penn student Theodore LeCompte wrote to MSNBC producers suggesting they shoot an episode of Hardball on campus. The show, hosted by Chris Matthews, proposed Trump, a 1968 graduate of the Wharton School, as a guest.

About 1,200 students attended the taping at Irvine Auditorium. Trump brought his then-girlfriend, Melania Knauss. She sat in the audience with his son Donald Jr., who at the time attended Penn.

Matthews asked Trump if he was going to run for president on the Reform Party ticket.

In the hour-long interview, Matthews peppered Trump [with questions] about taxes. Trump wanted a onetime 14.25 percent tax on wealthy individuals worth more than $10 million in order to reduce the national debt, while also eliminating the inheritance tax. Matthews cut to the chase.
Matthews: Are you running for president?
Trump: I am indeed.
Matthews: When you run for president, will you release your income tax returns?
Trump: You know, it’s something I haven’t even thought of, but I certainly, I guess, as I get closer to the decision, which I’ll probably make in February, it’s something I will be thinking of. They’re very big. They’re very complex. But I would probably have — I probably wouldn’t have a problem with doing it.
"The Method to the Madness"

The organizer, LeCompte, said at the time that Trump’s rise to the presidency seemed unlikely. I remember he made a joke about — not even a joke — but he made a reference like, ‘Wouldn’t you be a fabulous first lady?’ And I remember thinking to myself how ridiculous that concept would be,” LeCompte told the authors. “That Melania would be the first lady of the United States. It just did not register as something that would be feasible. She was this model. That’s who she was.”

LeCompte in 2012 became chief operating officer of the Democratic National Convention committee.

Trump predicted in 2005 that he’d run in 2016 against his ‘friend Hillary’

The real estate magnate teased several runs for president but always said he didn’t want to run unless he thought he could win, something the authors stress throughout the book. In 2005, while filming The Apprentice, contestant Jenn Hoffman said Trump started asking people involved with the show if he should run.

He’s talking about how he can’t stand how stupid W is and how his family f- up the whole thing. He starts talking about how he’s against the war ... and that segued into ‘Should I run? I think I should run.’ He kept telling us that he’d like to run, but if he runs he’d have to win, he doesn’t like to lose. And we’re like, ’2008?’ He said, ‘No it’s too early.’ Hillary Clinton in 2008 gets brought up and he says for her, no, he doesn’t think so, too early. He said, ‘If I run it’ll probably be in 2016 versus my friend Hillary.’ I remember very distinctly he said ‘friend.’
Jenn Hoffman in "The Method to the Madness"

Trump used the N-word to describe a contestant on ‘The Apprentice’

In a chapter titled “The N-word,” Bill Pruitt, coproducer of The Apprentice, recalled that the first season came down to Bill Rancic, a white man who owned a cigar business in Chicago, and Kwame Jackson, a Harvard Business School graduate and former investment manager at Goldman Sachs.

Pruitt recalls Trump huddling with producers to discuss who was going to win. Pruitt said that when someone spoke up in support of Jackson, Trump responded, “But will America buy a N— winning?” using the N-word to describe Jackson. Rancic wound up winning.

The anecdote is one in a series of reports alleging Trump’s use of the racial epithet before and after he was elected. Another Apprentice contestant, Omarosa Manigault Newman, formerly in the Trump administration, said in her memoir that Trump frequently used the N-word.

The man who taught Trump to use Twitter: ‘This isn’t going to be good’

Trump’s mastery of the media started in the 1990s, swapping gossip for publicity with tabloid reporters, according to Salkin and Short’s account. Back then, journalists who dealt with him recall he didn’t mind being described as “pompous” as long as the word “billionaire” followed.

His early adoption of social media is also a focus of the book. Justin McConney, who taught Trump how to use Twitter, said that when Trump first got an account, @DonaldTrump was taken, so McConney suggested they go with @realDonaldTrump. When the opportunity came to switch to just his name, they decided against it. “He already had 300,000 followers and Trump liked the sound of it. He just liked saying @realDonaldTrump,” McConney said.

Early on, Trump would write out Tweets on pieces of paper and give them to McConney to post on his account. McConney vividly recalled the night that changed.

"On [Feb. 5, 2013], a tweet went out at night. Unless he had called me there wouldn’t be a reason for a tweet to go out at night. The next morning I check with Meredith [McIver, a Trump organization staffer] and a few other people who had the password, and they said, “We didn’t put this out.” I checked with Trump and he said, “Oh yeah. I did it.” I was like, “Oh God.” I felt like Dr. Grant in Jurrassic Park when he learned the velociraptors can open doors. “This isn’t going to be good.”
Justin McConney in "The Method to the Madness"