November 20, 2009 in Business

Trump enters vitamin market

Tamara Lush Associated Press

MIAMI – It’s like “The Apprentice” meets Amway.

Donald Trump is synonymous with luxury high-rises, his TV show and his distinctive hairstyle. Now he’s putting his name on a vitamin and health products business whose salespeople make money by recruiting more salespeople.

The ubiquitous Trump is partnering with Ideal Health, a 12-year-old Massachusetts-based nutritional products company, and renaming it “The Trump Network,” though the partners won’t specify what their financial relationship is.

The products will be sold via multilevel marketing – a method of selling products through a network of distributors. Marketers receive commissions for the products they sell, along with a cut from products sold by other salespeople they’ve recruited.

Critics of such programs say that most of the products are bought by the distributors themselves, and that few of the salespeople actually come out ahead in the end.

The company hopes the Trump name and image will help sell the products.

The Trump Network will compete with well-established networks such as Amway and scores of retail brands such as Centrum. It’s unclear how many such companies are out there because most are privately held, but Trump Network co-founder Todd Stanwood said that there are about 200.

Joining the Trump Network costs $48. That buys a marketing kit and three months access to a personalized Web site to promote the products. However, new participants are often sold a $497 package that includes the marketing kit, products, CDs, sales tips and coupons.

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