Nazarian occasionally parties at his own places, and he'll happily tell you all about his wild night in Cannes with a 19-year-old model who vomited in his Mercedes after too much Cristal at Ivanka Trump's birthday party. With time, maybe he'll learn to think twice before showing a reporter the loofah sponge that J. Lo inadvertently left in the master bathroom when she moved out of the house (“Imagine where it has been—and what it has cleaned off!”). Or maybe not. Like a young Donald Trump with a sunnier disposition and better hair, Nazarian has a kind of gruff, take-me-as-I-am charisma; the brashness is an integral part of the package. And somehow, when he shows off the custom wheels on his new $450,000 Carrera GT, Nazarian seems less like a boastful tycoon than a Lotto winner who can't believe his luck.
If he has a role model, it's not Trump but Philip Anschutz, the enigmatic Denver multibillionaire who has built an empire encompassing sports teams, concert businesses and theater chains. “That guy is putting his balls on the table and saying, ‘Let's do it, but let's do it in the right way,’” Nazarian says. As for rival hoteliers Ian Schrager and André Balazs, he calls both men “geniuses” and “visionaries,” but he thinks they've been slacking off when it comes to customer service. To build up his SBE team, Nazarian has been poaching top people from the Four Seasons and W hotels—not to mention Starck, who was formerly Schrager's signature architect but now has an exclusive deal with Nazarian. The new Miami hotel represents a particularly brazen challenge to Schrager, since it sits right across the street from the Delano, the 10-year-old property that brought Schrager and Starck—and South Beach itself—much of their original cachet. (Schrager declined to comment.)
Before long, Nazarian hopes to be married with children, and to use his unique perspective as a Persian Jew to help bridge differences in the Arab-Israeli conflict. “It may seem over my head, but I think I have a way of bringing people together through humor and personality,” he says, noting that he once accompanied his father to Ramallah to talk business with Yasser Arafat. But for now he's going to continue working 16 hours a day to prove that he's for real as a businessman, and that his father's wealth has given him only a slight head start. “It's good to be the new kid on the block,” he says. “But you have to make sure to follow through.”