"Someone in the car looked over and said, 'Gee, look at that, it's a mugging,' " Trump said. "I said to my driver to stop the car because it was brutal-looking."
Trump was at first reluctant to discuss his daredevil deed, but then he warmed to the task.
"The guy with the bat looked at me, and I said, "Look, you've gotta stop this. Put down the bat,"' Trump said. "I guess he recognized me because he said, 'Mr. Trump, I didn't do anything wrong.' I said, 'How could you not do anything wrong when you're whacking a guy with a bat?' Then he ran away."
Trump said the incident occurred at 8 p.m. as he, Maples and another couple were heading toward the Lincoln Tunnel on their way to the Meadowlands in New Jersey for a Paula Abdul concert.
Kathleen Romeo, a 16-year-old student at St. Michael's Academy in Manhattan, said cries of "There's Trump!" went through the crowd of onlookers when the erstwhile deal maker emerged from his limousine in front of a Smiler's deli.
"A lot of people were surprised that he got out to see what was happening," Romeo said, adding that the bat-wielder ran off just before Trump actually appeared, and that Trump, "just looked around and went back into his limo."
But another witness, who asked not to be identified, supported Trump's tale.
"All of a sudden, a big long limousine pulls up on an angle, and Donald Trump pops out with the blond, too," the witness said. "There was a guy with a bat, hitting a guy over the head, and Trump yelled, 'Put that bat down. What are you doing?' The guy dropped the bat, came over and started talking to him."
Trump said the bat-man delivered at least "five or six good whacks" before he interceded.
Trump said he left the site only after he saw a man who appeared to be a doctor treating the victim and heard that an ambulance was on its way.
A Midtown North Precinct spokeswoman said the attack was not reported to police.
The incident may have been a karmic sequel to the Oct. 31 mugging of Trump's mother, whose attacker was chased and caught by bread deliveryman Lawrence Herbert.
"I was sort of lucky because of this gentleman Lawrence Herbert who helped us," Trump said yesterday. "So I thought about that afterwards."