Donald Trump's 'playbooks' offer a glimpse into his ruthless business practices

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More than 400 pages of released Trump University files describe how staff should target financial weaknesses to sell high-priced real estate courses

A federal judge has given the world an unprecedented glimpse into the ruthless business practices Donald Trump used to build his business empire.

US district court judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday made public more than 400 pages of Trump University “playbooks” describing how Trump staff should target prospective students’ weaknesses to encourage them to sign up for a $34,995 Gold Elite three-day package.

Trump University staff were instructed to get people to pile on credit card debt and to target their financial weaknesses in an attempt to sell them the high-priced real estate courses.

The documents contained an undated “personal message” from Trump to new enrollees at the school: “Only doers get rich. I know that in these three packed days, you will learn everything to make a million dollars within the next 12 months.”

The courses are now subject to legal proceedings from unhappy clients.


Judge Curiel released the documents, which are central to a class-action lawsuit against Trump University in California, despite sustaining repeated public attacks from Trump, who had fought to keep the details secret.

Curiel ruled that the documents were in the public interest now that Trump is “the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue”.

Trump hit back calling Curiel a “hater”, a “total disgrace” and “biased”. “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a rally near the courthouse in San Diego. “His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing ... [He] happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”

Curiel, who is Hispanic, is American and was born in Indiana.

Trump went on to attack Curiel further on Twitter on Monday and at a press conference in New York on Monday.


The playbook contains long sections telling Trump U team members how to identify buyers and push them to sign up for the most expensive package, and to put the cost on their credit cards.


“If they can afford the gold elite don’t allow them to think about doing anything besides the gold elite,” the document states.

If potential students hesitate, teachers are told to read this script.

As one of your mentors for the last three days, it’s time for me to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s time for you to be 100% honest with yourself. You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals. I’m looking at your profile and you’re not even close to where you need to be, much less where you want to be. It’s time you fix your broken plan, bring in Mr. Trump’s top instructors and certified millionaire mentors and allow us to put you and keep you on the right track. Your plan is BROKEN and WE WILL help you fix it. Remember you have to be 100% honest with yourself!

Trump University staff are instructed in how to persuade students to put the cost of the course on their credit cards, even if they have just battled to pay off debts.

Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? ... Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.

Trump staff are told to spend lunch breaks in sign-up seminars “planting seeds” in potential students minds about how their lives won’t improve unless they join the programme. They are also told to ask students personal questions to discover weaknesses that could be exploited to help seal the deal.

Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: 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 to work each day?

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has also sued Trump University, renewed his attacks on Trump on Tuesday. “You are not allowed to protect the trade secrets of a three-card Monte game,” Schneiderman said ahead of the document’s release. “If you look at the facts of this case, this shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people, to say whatever it took to induce them into his phony seminars,” Schneiderman said.

Credit: Guardian