Did Donald Trump really endorse Network Marketing?

Len Clements:

Did Donald Trump ever say he’d turn to MLM to make back his fortune? (insert drum roll here…)

Yep, he sure did.

But alas, that’s not the whole story. The MLM grapevine has managed to fold, spindle and mutilate the facts just a bit. Here’s the actual, absolutely factual, events that occurred during that fateful Tonight Show episode:

It indeed happened on the Tonight Show, and it was Johnny Carson at the helm. The date is fuzzy, but it’s probably circa late ’80s, early ’90s since Johnny did indeed ask Trump what he would do if he ever lost his fortune (so it must have been pre-Trump-thump and Artful Comeback). And what Donald Trump said in responses was, “I’d join Amway.” He said it with a rye grin, and the audience laughed accordingly.

They got the joke. Apparently some MLMers didn’t.

Yes, Donald was being facetious. He was poking fun at us, or more specifically our granddaddy, Amway. He wasn’t being serious about joining us, he was MOCKING us! But hey, technically, he DID say exactly what he was rumored to have said. Technically.

Of course, this all begs the question, how the heck do I know this?

Well, glad you asked, because I could not have gotten this from a better source than to have asked Johnny or The Donald himself. I asked Fred De Cordova, the producer of the Tonight Show for over 30 years. The opportunity came when a good friend at the time (a member of a famous band) was performing on the Tonight Show and I was invited to tag along. I got to sit in the green room with Martha Stewart and Sinbad. But I digress. Anyway, while strolling backstage with my friend we happened upon an elderly gentleman standing alone near the stage entrance (where Jay now emerges from each weeknight). It was Mr. De Cordova. He had since retired but, I was told later, still liked to hang out around his old stomping grounds. This chance meeting occurred just a few months before he passed away in September of 2001.

My friend and he spoke for a short time, as I stood silently aside, then we parted ways. I remember thinking just moments after about the Trump “myth” and regretted my missed opportunity to ask him about it. But a short time later I was allowed to explore on my own. Sure enough, Mr. De Cordova was still there. With more than a little apprehension I approached him and sheepishly introduced myself. He shook my hand and remembering me from our earlier indirect meeting asked if I was “with the band.” Once I had giddily provided him with may to much information about my utter lack of musical talent, I took a breath, and popped the question. With only a moment’s pause, he replied that he did recall such a conversation. And I was surprised to learn that I was not the first to have asked him about it! He did not recall the details of the previous inquiry, but he was clear on the Trump/Carson exchange…

…and that Donald Trump was just kidding.

Update: Donald Trump has since changed his tune about Network Marketing and now is paid to endorse ACN.