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Before Donald Trump sold the idea of a possible 2012 presidential bid, the bombastic real estate mogul peddled the American dream at a place called Trump University. He promised consumers the golden opportunity to be "my next apprentice" and learn "insider" secrets of real estate.

But a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego claims that the possible GOP presidential candidate's courses instead delivered expensive "infomercials" disguised as educational classes that preyed on vulnerable Americans in "troubled economic times."

George Sorial, assistant general counsel for the Trump Organization, told The Chronicle this week that the allegations contained in the suit are "completely ridiculous," adding that Trump University stands "100 percent behind any course we offered."

Sorial dismissed the lawsuit as an effort by two former students and their attorneys "looking to make a quick buck" from the celebrity businessman.

"There wouldn't even be a lawsuit if the Trump name weren't attached to it," he said.

But Tarla Makaeff, 37, a former fashion designer and marketer from Corona del Mar (Orange County), told The Chronicle in an interview this week that Trump's "university" was hardly worthy of the name.


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