• Donald Trump’s “university” in trouble


    I’ll admit it. I can’t keep up with all the controversy raging through the skeptic community these days. Heck, about the time I kinda/sorta unravel one mess, another one erupts. It’s depressing. I took a bit of time off from blogging last week (you may not have noticed) simply because it was warm outside, I’m feeling half normal after cancer surgery, and heck… fall’s coming. I need to enjoy the summer of ’13 a little, eh?

    However, today when I figured I couldn’t digest one more blog entry on the latest and greatest injustice, I stumbled on a story that made me want to fire up the keyboard. Here she be:

    (Image courtesy of one of my favorite dudes, the Salty Droid.)

    Donald Trump has a “university.” Whoda thunk? Not only has he created a “university,” it’s super-expensive. Seems he’s made a small fortune teaching “students” his top secret investment techniques. What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, his students aren’t particularly satisfied with their education and the New York State Attorney General is getting involved. Seems Mr. Trump may have engaged in some illegal business practices.

    The lawsuit, which seeks restitution of at least $40 million, accused Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization and others involved with the school of running it as an unlicensed educational institution from 2005 to 2011 and making false claims about its classes in what was described as “an elaborate bait-and-switch.”

    Trump has persuaded 5k people to spend tens of thousands of dollars for “education” in his unlicensed educational institution and his advertisements were evidently less than truthful.

    The advertisements claimed, for instance, that Mr. Trump had handpicked instructors to teach students “a systematic method for investing in real estate.” But according to the lawsuit, Mr. Trump had not chosen even a single instructor at the school and had not created the curriculums for any of its courses.

    Ah, the regular “ready, fire, aim,” technique where business owners are advised to fly forward with plans without any real market research or solid preparation. It’s probably not great business advice, but it works well for people who don’t like to… well… plan.

    Also, his pitch was fairly standard. He’s offer a “free” seminar where his chronies would present a sales pitch for a more expensive (as in $1,500) seminar which led to personal mentoring programs costing around $35k per course. It’s the classic sales funnel technique… reel in a few freebie seekers, then upsell them until you’ve bled ’em dry.

    And how bad was the bleeding? Here’s another doc from Salty Droid.

    Trump University representatives also told students during the three-day seminar to raise their credit card limits four times during the break for “real estate transactions,” and had students prepare detailed financial statements, presumably for real estate purchases. In fact, Trump’s real reason for having students increase their credit limits and provide detailed financial statements was to assess how much money each student had to spend on the next Trump seminar, and to persuade the students to use their increased credit limit to purchase the Trump Gold Program for $34,995.

    Woah. Sneaky.

    Trump isn’t thrilled with this new development.

    On Saturday evening, Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, denied the accusations in the lawsuit and said the school had received 11,000 evaluations, 98 percent of which rated students as “extremely satisfied.”

    George Sorial, another lawyer for Mr. Trump, called the lawsuit politically motivated. He said that Mr. Schneiderman had asked Mr. Trump and his family for campaign contributions and grew angry when denied.

    This should be interesting to watch.


    *Update* Ha. I knew it would be interesting. Turns out, Trump appeared on Fox and Friends and blamed President Obama for his legal woes.

    Category: In the News


    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)