Trump University is in limbo after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the organization for fraud. Mark Richardson, a 51-year-old married electrical engineer in Seattle, is stunned by the development.
A longtime admirer of the controversial real estate developer, Richardson began taking Trump University courses after purchasing “Trump University Wealth Building 101: Your First 90 Days On The Path To Prosperity” (We tracked down Richardson through a review he gave on Amazon).
“I always thought Trump was one of the more American icons because he was so successful, so when I originally noticed ‘Finance 101,’ it caught my eye,” he told us by phone recently.
He says he gave the book to every member of his family one Christmas.
“We’re all in same scenario, thinking about our finances, what’s the right way to do it — I actually think it had a lot of really good attributes.”
Eventually, he enrolled in online courses organized by the university, ultimately spending “a couple thousand” dollars on lessons.
He says he’s glad he did. Why? Mostly because the school gave him confidence and energy.
Empowered by the courses, he and his wife moved to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and opened a restaurant.
“People [would] look at me and say, ‘You did what?’ ‘We lived in the West Indies.’ And they’re like, ‘Wow!’ It’s the mindset — it was ‘Absolutely, if you have a dream, you might as well dream big. Have the tenacity, but pay attention to the details.”
Richardson says they sold the venture after only a year, after homesickness for Seattle caught up with them. He says they broke even.
Though he hasn’t seen the details of Schneiderman’s suit, he says it almost certainly lacks merit.
“Ya, he wasn’t accredited, that would be the only ‘downplay,’ calling yourself a university…everybody knew he wasn’t credited. I think he provided a good service.”
Richardson says there was no one tip or method he learned that changed his fortunes, but that he never entertained such expectations to begin with.
“If you’re doing a real estate deal, not everything is cut and dry — a lot of variables in there. If you put a program together saying, ‘This is what you do next’ …It could be done, but I don’t think [any] go to that extent.”
He also rejected the notion that course participants were only out to make a quick buck.
“I don’t get the get-rich-quick thing,” he said. “There’s nothing there about getting rich quick. I’ve done real estate since 1995 off and on, it takes a lot of experience and knowledge of how things work.”
To this day, he says, he uses the lessons he learned to manage his family’s trust.
And if the University were able to come back in compliance with the statutes it allegedly violated, he would recommend it.
“I would still advocate the books. If Trump University ever decided to start back up, maybe if they changed the format — it’s not such hard sell. I think the value is there.”