I’ve reviewed a copy of the 2010 Trump University Playbook and it certainly looks like a scam to me. The principle objective identified in the 172-page playbook is to classify the attendees into 1 of 4 categories based on the amount of liquid assets they have at their disposal. The categories are set forth on page 36.
1. Greater than $35 K;
2. Between $20 K and $30 K;
3. Greater than $10 K; and
4. Greater than $2 K.
The target group is the 1st category, which they call the Gold Elite Group.
With one important exception, the rest of the playbook is a detailed how-to manual regarding procedures like scheduling conferences, setting up conference rooms and submitting bills seeking reimbursement for expenses.
The exception is a recommended set of strategies to employ in convincing people in the Gold Elite Group to signup for advanced conferences where the strictly hush-hush mystical goodies will be revealed to the worthy initiates.
Yes, indeed, you would be correct if you guessed that the advanced level conferences cost lots of money. From $1,500 to the super special $35,000 conference where Trump himself will disclose the mystical goodies.
Speaker subject matter is tightly controlled. For example, the playbook warns them to use only the approved course materials and illustrative slide shows when lecturing to the students. No variation is permitted and anecdotal stories are prohibited without prior approval. The absence of room to move suggests that no special expertise is required to give a lecture.
My suspicions deepened when I reviewed carefully scripted responses in the playbook to frequently asked questions. No variation from the scripted responses was permitted. If a student asked a question that was not on the list, the playbook recommended segues to steer the student to a scripted answer. I got the impression that a pleasant voice, a smiling face and an ability to read slides were the only prerequisites to be a speaker.
Guidelines are provided for dealing with disruptive students, reporters and inquisitive attorney generals.
Separating a student from his or her money appears to have been the prime directive.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .