The US economy is "a bubble" that is heading for a "very massive recession", according to Donald Trump, the reality TV star who seems likely to end up as the Republican nominee for November's US general election.

"I think we're sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble," the billionaire businessman told the Washington Post in an interview published on 2 April. He said that a combination of high unemployment and an overvalued stock market are set to tank the USeconomy.

The unemployment rate in the US is currently 5.5%, a level most economists consider to be healthy – but Trump claimed that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was lying about the true figure.

"We're not at 5% unemployment," Trump said. "We're at a number that's probably into the twenties if you look at the real number," he said, adding that the official jobless figure is "statistically devised to make politicians – and in particular presidents – look good".

It is, meanwhile "a terrible time right now" to invest in the stock market, he claimed, once again flying in the face of accepted economic wisdom.

Having struggled under the spotlight in a difficult week, the real estate mogul has had to work hard to get his campaign back on track. One of the keys to his success so far is his appeal is to working class Americans who worry about the changing state of the economy and how it affects them. He has made hay by blaming unemployment suffered by his base on the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico and China.

Elsewhere on 2 April, Trump attacked American ties with Saudi Arabia, another issue that particularly concerns the subset of the population most likely to vote for him – and an issue heavily associated with his likely rival in the November race, Hillary Clinton.

The next major stop on the campaign trail is the Wisconsin primary on 5 April. Analysts are predicting a win for his last major rival Ted Cruz, in a state which has always seemed sceptical of Trump. A mere 42 delegates are up for grabs, however, with a total of 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination. Trump currently has 736 delegates in the bag, with Cruz on 463 and outlier John Kasich hanging on with 143.