The unthinkable has happened. Reality television has merged with reality. Donald Trump is America’s president-elect.

In scenes that many believed all but impossible, Mr Trump appeared before supporters in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after having pulled off an extraordinary victory. He quickly vowed to “bind the wounds” after a toxic campaign.

“Thank you everybody. Sorry to have kept you waiting, it’s a complicated business,” Trump

At around 3am in New York, Mr Trump’s tally of electoral votes stood at 279, compared to 218 for Ms Clinton. He had secured more than 57m votes, beating his rival by a little under a million in the popular vote.

He said that a few moments earlier, the had received a call of concession from his rival, Hillary Clinton.

“She congratulated us – it’s about us – on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family for a very hard fought campaign.”

It has been 18 months since the 70-year-old and his wife, Melania, slid down the escalator at Trump Tower in New York to announce that the brash tycoon was making a run for the White House.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” declared the man, best known to most of the world as the host of The Apprentice. “I am officially running for President of the United States.”

On Tuesday night, as the predictions of pundits and pollsters were thrown into the garbage, it became clear just how many Americans agreed with the tycoon’s assessment of the state of the country.