Internal documents of Trump University, a defunct online education program co-founded in 2005 by Donald Trump, revealed a moneymaking scheme that targeted students with "problems," presumably financial. Nearly 400 pages of documents were unsealed by a federal judge Tuesday after a lawsuit was filed alleging that the institute scammed thousands of people who enrolled in a program by giving the impression it was an accredited academic institution.
The documents include "playbooks" regarding running the enterprise and how to sell programs to customers. The playbook reportedly guides employees to assign ranks to potential students based on “who has the most and least liquid assets.” The courses at the university started at $1,495, with the most expensive option, known as gold elite, costing $34,995, the Time reported.
“Money is never a reason for not enrolling in Trump University; if they really believe in you and your product, they will find the money. You are not doing any favor [sic] by letting someone use lack of money as an excuse," one of the documents, which provided training and sales tips for Trump University employees, stated.
“When you introduce the price, don’t make it sound like you think it’s a lot of money, if you don’t make a big deal out of it they won’t,” the document reportedly said. “If they can afford the gold elite don’t allow them to think about doing anything besides the gold elite.”
The university's playbook also outlined a strategy for targeting people mostly under financial trouble.
“Urgency is proportional to pain,” the document said. “Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now. And the more it hurts, the more they’ll be prepared to pay for a speedy solution. It’s got to hurt enough!”
Two examples of personal problems potential Trump University buyers may be experiencing included: "Are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food? Or are they a middle-aged commuter that is tired of traveling for 2 hours for work each day?” the document said.
On Tuesday, former managers of Trump University in testimony portrayed it as an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics.
“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” one sales manager for Trump University, Ronald Schnackenberg, wrote, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”
Lawyers for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Tuesday challenged the testimony of the former Trump University employees saying it “was completely discredited” in depositions taken for the California lawsuit. Trump's lawyers declined to release those depositions on Tuesday.