Lawsuit slams Donald Trump's online business school as a ripoff
BY Douglas Feiden
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, May 5th 2010, 4:00 AM
B. Smith for News
Donald Trump with Michael Sexton, President of Trump University. Fashion designer Tarla Makaeff filed a law suit against Trump U. after taking seminars that taught her little about real estate.
The No. 1 lesson students learn at Donald Trump's online business program is How To Max Out Credit Cards 101, a new lawsuit charges.
A California businesswoman says that lured by the Trump name, she took bogus seminars at Trump University that destroyed her credit - and taught her almost nothing about real estate.
Fashion designer Tarla Makaeff filed a class-action suit claiming she was guaranteed a one-year apprenticeship - and a personal real estate mentor that would be the "next best thing to being Donald Trump's next 'Apprentice.'"
Instead, she got a half-day trip to a Home Depot to examine supplies for fixing up foreclosed homes - plus mentors who pushed self-serving deals, then disappeared and failed to return calls, she says in court papers.
Makaeff's suit comes with "Trump University" already under fire from the state Education Department, which is demanding the program immediately stop calling itself a university in violation of state education law.
Makaeff says she lost $80,000, including $34,995 for a "Trump Gold Elite membership." She was whacked on interest, financing, late fees, penalties and expenses.
"I relied on the Trump name and Donald Trump's reputation as a real estate mogul," she told the Daily News. "I expected nothing less than the best. ... Big mistake."
The for-profit, nonaccredited school, founded by Trump in 2005, denies the charges:
"This lawsuit is completely without merit. We will vigorously defend our brand, our services, our company, our reputation and our integrity," said Trump U. President Michael Sexton.
The suit, filed in federal court in San Diego, doesn't name Donald Trump personally.
Sexton said Makaeff "consumed all the services she purchased" and declared herself satisfied in a videotaped testimonial.