I cannot tell you how flattered I was to get an e-mail from Donald Trump. I didn't think he knew my name, much less that such a rich and famous person would take a personal interest in me. But there it was in the in-box, his e-gram to moi!
On top of it was a picture of Mr. Trump looking extremely dynamic: dark suit, white shirt, head thrust almost belligerently toward me, a good forward comb-over. The electro-missive began by saying it was a "private invitation," which would have won me over immediately even without his personal Wall Street address, where, I suppose, he makes some of his fabulous deals. I can tell you that even though it takes a lot to turn my head, he had mine twisted off the top of my neck.
The letter started off by saying, "It's not often that I reveal any of my hard-won success secrets for free." And then — for free — he let me play the video that told me about the school he has started: Trump University. If John Harvard and Elihu Yale can have schools named after them, why not The Donald, who is a lot more famous and has had a lot more girls?
Although Trump University is not yet 300-plus years old, it has its own coat of arms — a rampant lion with a curly tail on a quartered field below what I took to be a bar sinister. Nice. His university has a motto, too, like Lux et Veritas. His is "We Teach Success," which is more useful than light and truth, if you ask me.
Most of the school catalogues are loaded with idealistic sentiments and altruistic bric-a-brac. Trump University is looking for a different kind of student. "I created Trump University for a very specific reason — to help create the next generation of millionaires. Starting your own business is one of the best paths to that goal — and my new Entrepreneurship Mastery Program can really give you an awesome head start. My team of experts and 100% practical program content will help you hit the ground running and stay way in front of your competition. If you're at all serious about making it in your own business, my serious advice to you is: Take this program!"
As for tuition, it seems to be variable, with some things like the "Innovative Self-Assessment Tool" and "The Entrepreneur Profile," a $29 value being thrown in for free, which the modern college student can appreciate. No mention is made of government loans or grants but, unlike Stanford or NYU, Donald Trump offers a money-back guarantee. "That's right — if you are in any way less than fully satisfied with your online learning experience within the first four sessions, we'll give you a full and fast refund — no questions asked!"
No questions asked. They ask many questions at places like the University of Chicago, which can be irritating. Chicago was started by John D. Rockefeller, said to be quite a businessman himself, but things were easier when he was coming up. Which is a bigger hassle, an oil company or a gambling casino?
One of the good things about Trump U. compared to old-fashioned places: At Trump they tell you the real secrets. For example, they explain the "3 reasons why two Ukrainian immigrants — a husband and wife — succeeded in real estate in America when so many others fail! (Even after losing his regular income overnight — due to the World Trade Center attacks — Gennady [the husband] and his wife Maria were able to bounce back with lightning speed because of their real estate investing knowledge. Discover their secrets!"
At Trump they may not have a lacrosse team, but they have got the basic truths boiled down so anybody can get rich quick. For example they'll give you:
Of course, some Donald Trump truths come in fours:
And just below "The six false assumptions about real estate," a student can find out about "the four secrets to turning crippling fear into the courage of a lion." Hence the coat of arms.
Once you have mastered the four secrets of turning crippling fear into the courage of a lion, there is a pleasant surprise for you, something which will do worlds for your self esteem: "Successful completion of the program leads to a Certificate of Entrepreneurship Mastery, signed by Donald Trump, and mailed to you complete with its own attractive cover."
So on the dark days, when you may feel something in your tummy akin to nervousness, take out your certificate and Roar, Lion, Roar!
By Nicholas Von Hoffman
Reprinted with permission from The Nation