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Monday, February 20, 2006

Trump expands empire to education- Huh?

I slapped my forehead a couple times and shook my head when I saw this. - Dave

Trump expands empire to education

Monday, February 20, 2006
Courier Post
Courier-Post Staff

Donald Trump has his casino business.

He has a hit TV show, has written best-selling books and even has a new travel business.

Now, with the launch of Trump University last year, he can call himself an educator.

Trump U offers online, audio and home-study courses in topics such as entrepreneurship, business planning, marketing and real estate.

"The focus is on continuing ed and professional development," said Michael Sexton, president of Trump University. "You have a fantastic brand in Trump, and a tremendous need for education to help people achieve their goals and move forward."

For Connie Bally, Trump U is a practical alternative to the more traditional MBA approach.

"MBA programs never seem realistic," said Bally, a 52-year-old securities broker from Evergreen, Colo.

"Those I know with well-established careers who go back for an MBA shake their heads over what's being taught, compared to what it's like in the real world," Bally said.

The real-world approach led Bally to sign up for an entrepreneurship course. Trump's name also sold her.

"Trump is good at weeding through the bull. He is so sharp in a business sense," Bally said.

The reality show sparked the genesis for Trump U, Sexton said.

About a dozen college programs teach lessons learned from The Apprentice, he said. And thousands of people plunk down money to listen to Trump speak about business.

Trump U, launched in May, captures the essence of what Trump writes and speaks about.

Trump is not just a figurehead in all this, Sexton said. He has a column, answers questions from students and has his own blog.

"From my days as a student at the Wharton School and my professional experience, I have a real passion for learning," Trump said. "It became obvious to me early in my career that education gives a person an edge in business. Trump University grew out of my desire to impart my business knowledge, and my realization that there is a huge demand for practical, convenient education that teaches success."

Trump's image helped persuade Don Sexton to come aboard as a marketing instructor.

"It's named Trump University based on what he stands for. And it gets attention," said Sexton, no relation to the university's president.

Students tend to be well-educated. Seventy percent are college graduates.

A large segment are small-business owners or people who are in real estate, Michael Sexton said.

"We don't appeal to the guy who sees late-night TV ideas on how to get rich overnight with no investment," he said.

Gary Eldred, the lead content expert in the real estate mastery program at Trump U, said he is "convinced that we are building a world-class program in professional education."

Nearly all of the faculty hold or have held positions at prestigious universities, and they have been involved in high-level consulting or have comparable business experience, Eldred said.

Like Bally, Pat Lathouris is a devotee of The Apprentice, which has contestants take part in projects similar to those she handles as part of her career in marketing communications.

" I've always had the desire to further my education in marketing, but haven't had the time to take graduate courses on a specific schedule," said Lathouris, who lives in North Great River, N.Y., and works for a manufacturer in the security and audio industry.

It wasn't the Trump name that brought Paul Wimer onboard as an instructor.

It was Michael Sexton, with whom he worked in a consulting firm.

"He was kicking off Trump University and wanted a perspective from folks in the industry who work with entrepreneurs," said Wimer, a partner in the Long Island-based Topspin Partners, a venture capitalists firm. "For me, it was an opportunity to get involved in the educational process."

Wimer teaches courses on entrepreneurship.

The workload includes exercises in spreadsheets, how to decipher the size of the marketplace and how to identify target groups.

"My focus is on giving students the instructions they need to go from an idea to moving forward and building a business, to ask the right questions," he said. "A lot of people have great ideas in their heads but can't communicate them adequately to someone else."

Like any online course, human interaction is sometimes sacrificed.

"One of the real weaknesses in e-learning is individuals feel isolated," Michael Sexton said. "Courses are self-guided, but there is an opportunity to interact with peer groups. Feedback from six to 12 people gives it a sense of community."

None of that matters to Jose Marquez, a vice president for LCV Foods Co. in El Paso, Texas. He figures Donald Trump has survived business ups and downs -- last year's bankruptcy of his casino empire, for example -- so if his name is attached to the school, the courses are worthwhile.

"How many people can pull that off? Not many," he said. "I thought it would be interesting to learn from the master of negotiation."

Reach William H. Sokolic at (609) 823-9159 or


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Trump U."?

It will probably have as much clout as Univ. of Phoenix.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Dana said...

One has to admire the persistence of this guy to promote his name. Did you know that there is a Trump cologne!?

6:23 AM  

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