Donald Trump
Donald Trump says he's "more serious" about running for president in 2016 than he was in 2012. Reuters

Donald Trump says he is "more serious" about running for president in 2016 than his previous flirtation in 2012. To back up that claim, the real estate billionaire and “The Apprentice” star has begun hiring staff in key primary states, such as Iowa and South Carolina, while delaying a decision to re-up another season as host of his NBC reality show, according to the Washington Post.

“Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”

Chuck Laudner, who in 2012 was an adviser to ex-Sen. Rick Santorum in Iowa -- a state that Santorum won -- would oversee the Trump campaign in Iowa if Trump follows through with a run. Ed McMullen, an aide to the two presidential campaigns of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, would serve as state chairman and political adviser in South Carolina for a potential Trump campaign, according to the Post.

“I am more serious about this than I’ve ever been before,” Trump said. “I made the deal with Chuck and [potential senior campaign adviser] Corey [Lewandowski] and some more we’ll be announcing soon because I’m serious and I want to focus on making America great again. I don’t need to be out there raising money.”

But Trump’s contention that he doesn’t need to be raising money may be a hint that he’s not as serious as he claims to be. Although he is worth $4 billion, he could not self-finance a presidential campaign. Trump would need to find political benefactors, not only to support his bid but also to block deep-pocketed donors from making his potential 2016 GOP rivals more viable by writing checks for the competition.

When 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is also independently wealthy and worth about $250 million, announced last month that he would not seek a third run at the presidency, political observers pointed to the strong fundraising by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as one of the reasons Romney shied away from another campaign, according to Politico.