Former employees of Trump University say it’s a ‘total lie’

Trump University

The biggest critics of Trump University? It might just be former employees who helped guide the embattled program.

In statements released this week as part of a federal class action lawsuit, former employees complained of unethical sales techniques, unqualified instructors, and widely unsatisfied students.

“Far from providing a ‘complete real estate education,’ as advertised, Trump University personnel only provided enough information to get students to sign up for the next seminar or program,” said a statement from Corinne Sommer. She served as a manager of the events department for six months in 2007.

“These people did not necessarily have real estate experience, but they were skilled at high-pressure sales,” Sommer said in her statement. “I recall that some consumers had showed up who were homeless and could not afford the seminars, yet I overheard Trump University representatives telling them, ‘it’s ok; just max out your credit card.'”

Sommer says some sales people even felt bad about the tactics used to recruit people.

“I resigned from my position in May 2007 because I believe that Trump University was engaging in misleading, fraudulent and dishonest conduct,” said Ronald Schnackenberg, a former sales manager who lasted just six months at the company. He said he believed it was a “fraudulent scheme and that it preyed on the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”

Schnackenberg told the story of a couple he talked to the month before he quit who had no money to pay the $35,000 tuition. Schnackenberg said they were talked into using the husband’s disability income and a home equity loan to pay for their enrollment.

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“I did not feel it was an appropriate program for them because of their precarious financial condition,” he wrote. “Trump University reprimanded me for not trying harder to sell the program to this couple.”

Schnackenberg also questioned the qualifications of the instructors. One instructor, he claimed, was in jewelry sales before making the move to an infrastructure position at Trump University.

“I believe most of the instructors, mentors and coaches had very little or no experience in the real estate techniques they were teaching,” said Schnackenberg. “I received complaints from Trump University students about this….In my experience, virtually all students who purchased a Trump University seminar were dissatisfied with the program they purchased. To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques they were taught.”

That’s a big stretch for a University that claimed all instructors were “hand picked” by Donald Trump.

“They were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump’s ‘right-hand men,'” said Jason Nicholas, another former employee, in his statement. “They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a facade, a total lie.”

Former employees say workers were prepped on how to dress, how to run a Trump U, and how to speak to the media to keep the lies in check.

More testimony and secrets are likely to surface as lawsuits against Trump University dive deeper into the businesses shady practices.

Written by Jeff Springer

Jeff Springer

Jeff Spring is the Finance & Markets Editor at He's currently spending his days backpacking across Europe. While he may be living outside of the United States, he stays connected to American financial markets and M&A's more than is probably healthy for any single person. His love of a good book and a Bloomberg terminal can't be understated.