LAS VEGAS-At the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Spring Convention here today, Brit Hume, Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent and managing editor interviewed Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, about his thoughts on today’s business climate. The exchange took place at the Las Vegas Hilton during the convention’s opening session.

“Business is no different than a sport,” Welch said. “The team that has the best players wins.” One retail example of a winning business Welch mentioned was Wal-Mart. “No one knows their customers better than Wal-Mart.”

China’s economic boom is a competitive threat to the United States, but at the same time, the country offers opportunities for some US business, particularly retailers like Wal-Mart that are poised to open hundreds of stores in the country, he said.

On management, Welch said that it’s best to be as honest as possible with employees. “If you manage 10 people, you have the obligation to let everyone who works at your place know exactly where they stand,” he said. “A company, to make the right decisions, needs healthy debate.”

Before the interview, Michael Kercheval, ICSC’s president and CEO, told attendees that about 40,000 people are expected to attend this year’s convention, up from about 36,000 last year. People are coming to the convention from six continents, 50 countries and more than 500 towns and cities, he said. About 7,000 people are first-time attendees at the event. The ICSC Spring Convention ends Wednesday.

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