Trump University, the real estate training program offered in cities across the country, hasn’t offered a course in several years, but the school that Donald Trump modestly named after himself is still making plenty of news. Trump University is the target of two major lawsuits, a $40 million fraud action brought by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, and a class-action lawsuit in California. Both suits charge that Trump University promised to make students rich on real-estate deals but instead steered them into costly and mostly useless seminars.
Amid the thousands of pages generated by Trump University lawsuits, one document offers a particularly revealing look into the inner workings of Trump’s would-be educational empire: a 41-page “Private & Confidential” playbook printed on Trump University letterhead.
Here are the basics: In cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Dallas, Trump University promoted free seminars as a chance to follow in Trump’s very own footsteps. One ad had Trump proclaiming, “In just 90 minutes, my hand-picked instructors will share my techniques, which took my entire career to develop. Then, just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.”
But these seminars served little purpose other than to enroll the attendees in expensive Trump University training programs, retreats, and coaching sessions. The playbook makes Trump’s school seem like not so much a school of higher learning as a meticulously choreographed sales event. Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump University turns out to be more “Trump” than “University.”