How Trump University used emotional language to woo customers
New Trump University documents unsealed this week by court order as part of a class action lawsuit show how the education business coerced its customers to buy into its real estate programming.
A class-action lawsuit against Trump University LLC has opened a window into Trump University’s “playbooks,” unsealed this week, which shows how the real estate education program used emotionally charged language to aggressively pursue customers.
Established in 2004, the now defunct for-profit company founded by businessman and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been dogged by accusations of impropriety for years, including conflict with state regulators over the use of the word “university” in its name despite not being accredited as such.
United States District Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued the ruling to release the company’s strategies Friday following a request from The Washington Post claiming the information is relevant to the public given Mr. Trump’s newfound political status. The presidential hopeful, who has launched public attacks against the judge regarding his race due to his involvement with the case, held a rally in San Diego the same day as the ruling, at which Trump derided Curiel as “hostile” and a “hater of Donald Trump,” and again referencing Curiel’s Hispanic heritage.
The program has been the subject of several class-action lawsuits in three states, which allege that Trump University, later called The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, baited its students without providing results and functioned more like an infomercial than an educational operation.
The unsealed Trump University documents provide background on how the program dealt with “the roller coaster of emotions” experienced by its customers, as well as how the customers were persuaded to continue with the course.
“The motivation that they experienced can die quickly as the realities of their daily lives take over. It is our job to rekindle that motivation ... to make them once again see the potential of achieving their dream,” a company guide read, according to the Associated Press.
The playbook also included advice on using the most persuasive words in the English language, citing an unspecified Yale University study, that can language “have a powerful subconscious effect on people.”
Trump University’s programming ranged from a $1,495 three-day seminar to $34,995 annual Trump Elite packages. The unsealed playbooks included advice for selling customers on the costly seminars, with “aggressive” pitching that would take buyers and “push them out of their comfort zones.”
“If they complain about the price, remind them that Trump is the BEST!! This is the last real estate investment they will ever need to make,” the documents said. “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.”
Jill Martin, The Trump Organization vice president and an attorney on the case, said the newly released evidence showed customers’ high satisfaction with Trump University and would back up a Trump win in court.
After years, the case is set to go to trial in late November, after the US presidential election.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.