"I don't think that we have ever seen one person, operating in such an unconventional way, have an impact on the events of the year," said Time editor Nancy Gibbs.
She called this year's choice "one of the more straightforward years." Trump beat runner-up Hillary Clinton for the distinction, which Gibbs said is given to the newsmaker who has the biggest influence on world events, for better or worse.
The magazine has been selecting the year's most influential person, group or idea since 1927. Its choices have included nearly every U.S. president, Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini, Mahatma Gandhi and Pope Francis, along with groups like the "Ebola fighters."