The Three-Minute Deal

By Lisa Gschwandtner

In a mere three minutes, Brazilian entrepreneur Ricardo Bellino talked Donald Trump into investing in his luxury golf resort. The multimillion-dollar deal turned into Trump Realty Brazil.

“I was extremely busy that day and not particularly in the mood for a presentation,” Trump writes in the forward to Bellino’s book, You Have 3 Minutes! Learn the Secrets of the Pitch from Trump’s Original Apprentice (McGraw-Hill, 2006). “What people don’t often realize is that when I say three minutes, I mean three minutes, and for a good reason. Ricardo understood that.”

How did he do it? Bellino has always been a believer in the power of those initial impressions. But before he even approached Trump, he put intense effort into researching his plan. When it was airtight, he asked John Casablancas, founder of Elite Modeling Agency, to write a letter of introduction to Trump. This meant he would be preceded by a good reputation. At the end of his three-minute meeting, Trump passed Bellino off to his executive vice president to hammer out the details. Bellino’s first impression had opened the door; now he needed to back up his talk.

“If I hadn’t prepared myself for that moment and had simply relied on my intuition to tell me what to do, I probably would have left that room in less than three minutes, without reaching any deal at all,” Bellino says.