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Trump to take stand Tuesday in suit over condo sales at Chicago tower

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Updated: June 15, 2013 6:31AM

As the star of “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump presents himself as a shrewd judge of character and a business genius.

But lawyers for an elderly Chicago woman painted a less flattering picture of the big-haired former presidential contender in a downtown federal courtrom Monday.

They say Trump used his image as a “world famous real estate developer” to con 87-year-old Jackie Goldberg into purchasing two $1 million hotel condo units in the Trump Tower in 2006. He allegedly promised her a “piece of the action” from the Trump International Hotel’s weddings, catering and convention business, then snatched back those profits for himself once she’d signed a contract and ponied up $500,000.

Video clips of an uncomfortable-looking Trump defending himself against the alleged bait-and-switch during a 2012 deposition were played for jurors during opening arguments Monday in the long-awaited trial.

They offered a tantalizing taste of the courtroom drama expected Tuesday afternoon, when Trump is due to take the stand and face questioning by Goldberg’s attorney Shelly Kulwin. The case promises a rare in-depth look at both Trump’s management style and the development of an already iconic part of the Chicago skyline.

Addressing the jury Monday, Kulwin said Goldberg was a mom of four who invested in real estate as a “hobby.” She’d been swayed, he said, by a sales pitch that advertised ownership of hotel rooms at the Trump Tower as the “gateway to a glamorous experience.”

In addition to rental income from her units, Goldberg was promised part ownership of the hotel’s ballrooms, food and beverage service, laundry and parking, plus access to the hotel’s gym and health club, he said.

Goldberg thought, “Who better to go into the hotel business with than Donald Trump?” he added.

But Trump, he claimed, “never had any intention” of letting Goldberg and other condo owners control the hotel. Trump and his executives deliberately misrepresented what they were selling because they had failed to attract an anchor tenant for the Trump Tower’s office space and needed cash, he alleged.

Representing Trump, Stephen Novack agreed that the magnate took the hotel from the condo owners after Goldberg bought her units.

But he said Goldberg was a “sophisticated investor,” who’d invested more than $11 million in real estate, and knew the deal she signed allowed Trump to seize the hotel.

He showed jurors an email Goldberg wrote that said there “was no court case” if her contract allowed Trump to take back the hotel.

“She said it herself,” Novack said. “So what are we doing here?”

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