Yes, the "birther" controversy was just a way for Donald Trump to gain attention. Everything Donald Trump does is in a effort to gain attention for Donald Trump and his financial endeavors. He will say anything to secure votes and make money. It is rumored that he never really wanted to be president, he just wanted to get more eyes on his reality shows.
Yes, this was just a way to gain attention, and it worked. He proved that people want to believe Obama was born in another country. This led to Trump's rise in the political landscape. Without this controversy, he may never have been able to get involved in this presidential election.
In 2011, many American's questioned President Obama's origins due to the unavailability of a US birth certificate. There were also inconsistencies in stories told by his family and friends as to where he came from. While it is a fascinating topic, perhaps, Mr. Trump was simply using his platform as a way to inform others about a concern he himself had as an American citizen.
After a time that most politicians had given up on the birth certificate issue, Donald Trump was still out there making noise about it. (And why not, he didn't have to worry about losing votes) The optics of the situation surely favored Trump, as for years and years nothing came out of the entire situation. Suddenly when Trump is basically the only one standing, the birth certificate gets released. Of course Donald is going to take credit for that, even if he had nothing to do with it.