Oh, Donald. Tacky, tacky, tacky…..
We’ve all become familiar with the various kinds of pyramid schemes operating in the U.S. Most aren’t as monumental as the Bernie Madoff ponzi-scheme variety, and some even sell arguably useful products, but they all share certain characteristics: they’re based on recruiting an increasing number of “investors,” and typically, those new recruits pay a sum of money to join the “program” and become a distributor of a product or service. They’re told they’ll make money based on the number of new recruits they bring in. The basic idea is that the higher up on the pyramid you are, the more money you’ll make.
In reality, what happens is that only the originators of the pyramid scheme make money and the rest lose theirs when the pyramid scheme collapses.
Evidently, in-between bankruptcies, bottled water and steaks, Donald Trump engaged in a pyramid scheme to sell a “diet product” to the desperate/credulous:
The company’s flagship product was called the PrivaTest, which supposedly relies upon a mail-in urine test to determine one’s individual nutritional needs and create a custom vitamin formula (about $140 for the test; $70 per month for the vitamins; $100 to retest every 6 months).
From a scientific viewpoint, urine tests do not provide a legitimate basis for recommending that people take dietary supplements. Moreover, even if they could, the nutrients in the so-called customized formulas can be obtained far more inexpensively in retail stores. The Trump Network also acquired a weight loss program called The Silhouette Solution, which consisted of a book promising to lose the weight you want and have the silhouette you choose, which was included in the starter weight loss kit, all for a whopping $1,325. The package was marketed as “a complete eight-week program that contains everything you need to achieve your short and long term weight loss goals.” In it, they send you eight weeks worth of low-calorie food….
But it gets better….you could also purchase the $400 “business kit” and market the product to your friends and family, ala Tupperware. Trump sold Privatest and the Silhouette Solution in 2012 to a company called Bioceutica, LLC., apparently due to concerns about liability. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported on Trump’s claim that his involvement with Ideal Health merely allowed them to use his name for marketing purposes and that he was not involved in the company’s operations.
But statements by him and other company representatives — as well as a plethora of marketing materials circulating online — often gave the impression of a partnership that was certain to lift thousands of people into prosperity. In fact, within a few years, the company fell on hard times, leaving some salespeople in tough financial straits. It ultimately was acquired by another firm.
But when Trump joined forces with Ideal Health, he was enthusiastic about its future.
“When I did ‘The Apprentice,’ it was a long shot. This is not a long shot,” Trump told a Trump Network convention of at least 5,000 people in Miami in 2009, his face projected onto a giant screen. “This is going to be something that’s really amazing.”
Yep. Amazing. You’ll be thin and rich.
And this is the charlatan who’s going to “Make America Great.”