Student: “It Would Be Ignorant to Ignore the Downside in Such a ‘Winner'”

Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

Donald Trump boldly stated at a rally on Sept. 9, “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.” Trump has been dominating headlines ever since he announced he was running for president. One of Trump’s main points in his campaign is how successful his business ventures have been. He has boasted that his net worth is around $10 billion. Unfortunately for him, the Internet exists; hence people can look into how “successful” he really has been.

Trump seems to have had sky-high expectations for his companies – especially for the airline he purchased. He bought out the Eastern Air Shuttle service in 1998. The Eastern Air Shuttle was popular due to its convenience; the airline only offered flights to Boston, New York City and Washington D.C. According to Time Magazine, “[f]or roughly $365 million, Trump got a fleet of 17 Boeing 727s, landing facilities in each of the three cities and the right to paint his name on an airplane.” Adding his larger-than-life style, he decked out the planes with maple wood floors, chrome seat belt latches and gold colored bathroom fixtures. The airline was not as popular as Trump expected it to be; turns out people don’t really care about having a toilet with a golden handle. In 1992, the airline was relinquished over to creditors due to lack of business.

In 2007, Trump struck up a partnership with a company called Sharper Image – a gadget company – and created Trump Steaks. He claimed that people who went to his casinos loved his steaks so much that they wanted to be able to buy them. Trump gave the people what they wanted.

According to ThinkProgress, for the low price of $199, a consumer could get “two filet mignons, two cowboy bone-in rib-eyes and 12 burgers.” The package options went as high as “$999 for 24 burgers and 16 steaks.” You’re probably thinking: “Wow that’s a whole lot of money! I bet they were really good though, right?” Wrong. According to multiple customer reviews, the steaks lacked flavor, were very greasy and not worth the high price. Doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of bang for so much buck. After only two months, Shaper Image stopped selling these steaks. An interesting fact is, when making the deal with Sharper Image, one of Trump’s requirements was that every Sharper Image store have a poster with him on it.

To get over the loss of some of his businesses, a little alcohol wouldn’t hurt, right? Instead of just having a drink, though, Trump decided to make one: Trump Vodka. He introduced his line of vodka in 2006. The slogan of his newest creation was “Success Distilled.” He believed that his brand of vodka would be internationally enjoyed, as well as be able to take down one of the biggest names in vodka: Grey Goose. Despite his confidence, Trump Vodka never managed to surpass Grey Goose and ceased production in 2011 due to not meeting “threshold requirements” (how much the company needs to make to stay afloat).

While the three examples above were pretty bad blunders, nothing can top this final one: Trump University. That’s right. He created a university. It opened in 2005.

The Washington Post says that it never was licensed as a school; instead, “Trump University was in reality a series of real estate workshops in hotel ballrooms around the country.”

This, in and of itself, is nothing really out of the ordinary. It’s common for there to be seminars and courses that aren’t held in an actual school setting. However, the classes and seminars were nothing like what the students had expected. Instead of being educated about how to succeed in business or real estate, the Washington Post states, “[the students] found generic seminars led by salesmen who pressured them to invest more cash in additional courses.” Seminars were really just salesmen conning the students into investing in more costly courses, rather than educational. The school was deemed to be a fraud, for none of Trump’s promises were fulfilled; it was a scam.

In 2013, the New York Attorney General Eric Scheniederman filed a lawsuit against Trump and his university due to him having an unlicensed school and committing fraud against students. Not surprisingly, Trump was found personally guilty on said charges.

From airlines to steaks to vodka to universities, Trump seems to get his hands into everything. However, the multitude of failures and frauds stacked up against Trump cannot be ignored. While he may have had successes in his business career, it would be ignorant to ignore the downsides in such a “winner.”