Once again ... the triumph of woman over man, commitment over philandering, safe sex over the universe of social disease, the Known Blonde over the Dark Void, ultimatum over understanding:

Donald Trump announced his engagement to Marla Maples on nationwide television yesterday.

Apparently, the New York Times' Sunday society page is too demure a venue. "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" seemed better.

Trump phoned it in.

Regis: "So, you're an engaged man this morning?"

The Voice of The Donald: "I am indeed, and Marla's a very special girl."

Why, just last week Trump and his special girl were quarreling. Maples, 27, bolted from their penthouse apartment at Trump Park in Manhattan, heading for the Connecticut home of TV celebrity friends Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford. Meanwhile, Trump, 45, was linked in the tabloids with Carla Bruni, a lanky Italian fashion model who had previously dated rock stars. He told the papers it was too soon to settle down with anybody. He also said he worried about bachelorhood in the '90s. ("Scary out there.") His dates, he claimed, would have to submit to AIDS tests at his doctor's office.

This was routine pre-wedding jitters, according to Maples' mother, Ann Ogletree, reached yesterday on vacation in Daytona Beach, Fla. Her daughter needed "some time and space." And Trump had to make a decision -- seven months after his divorce from Ivana was finalized.

"Just like everybody else about to get married," Ogletree said, "they had some things to iron out."

The proposal came Tuesday night, in Connecticut. Maples had been left alone there while the Giffords were in Washington, attending a state dinner at the White House. Trump appeared at the door with a serious diamond from Harry Winston. Eight carats. It has not been confirmed that he wept, or fell on bended knee. But he didn't write "The Art of the Deal" for nothing. She caved.

"I talked to both of them this morning," said Ogletree. "He was thrilled. She was very happy. We're all tickled."

Kathie Lee Gifford broke the story -- the easiest scoop of her career? -- on her morning small-talk show.

"No date, specifically," Trump said on the air. He then addressed the New York tabloids: "It was so inaccurately covered that it was amazing."

It's unclear whether he was referring to the stories last week that he had dumped Maples, or the story in Tuesday's New York Daily News that she'd dumped him.

"In all honesty, Donald is completely awkward with women," a close friend of Maples told the News. "He never developed small talk. He's not very social. He doesn't have any friends. Plus, he's completely paranoid about venereal disease and AIDS."

Once she'd gone, Trump had become lovesick -- obsessed and insanely jealous, according to gossip columnist Richard Johnson of the News. He had begun calling Ogletree for advice, sometimes 10 times a day.

"We do keep in touch," Ogletree said of her prospective son-in-law. "I like him very much."

A small wedding is planned. "Something pretty private," said Ogletree. "I wouldn't be surprised if it were a fall wedding. Marla's always loved the fall and the snow ... the late fall."

She isn't bothered by Trump's track record -- his previous 13-year marriage, or that the divorce court judge remarked on his "cruel and inhuman" treatment of Ivana. And she isn't worried about his financial stability, which -- by all accounts but his -- is teetering on the precipice of ruin.

"No, I'm very happy with the way he handles his financial problems," she said, laughing. "I have no concerns about that."

"I always promised Daddy I'd keep my name," Maples told a Vanity Fair interviewer last year. "I'm an only child and he never had a son ... so I don't know, maybe Marla Maples Trump."