Become the next Donald Trump – start by paying just £199 a month...

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Tom Peck endures the motivational high-fives and hard sells of world ‘business gurus’

“You. Are. An. Olympic Champion. YOU ARE AN OLYMPIC CHAMPION!” The bellowed words reverberate around the cavernous halls of London's Excel Centre.

Not that long ago it would have been true - this after all is where Jade Jones, Nicola Adams, and the like punched and kicked their way to gold. But this is not the Olympics, it is the curiously titled National Achievers Congress, and it could hardly be more different.

In its 18th year, the National Achievers Congress is a conference that travels the world, placing inspirational leaders before huge audiences keen to learn the secrets of their success.

Tony Blair addressed it in Kuala Lumpur in 2010, though the vast majority of speakers have success stories heavily focused on the self-help industry.

Thousands of ticket holders are packed inside, to hear from leaders in "business, sport, personal wealth creation [a popular one, this], success and fulfilment."

On Saturday evening Lord Coe was here, taking his first Blairlike tug at the teet of the ever-lactating cashcow that is the public speaking circuit. "Sport is the hidden social worker," he told them.

Last night, after almost 30 hours or seminars spread over three days, it culminated with the "Mega-successful entrepreneur" Donald Trump. "You've got to think like a warrior," he imparted, before reminding attendees how "most of the guys here, they never made 10 cents doing anything but public speaking." Compared to those who had preceded him, he was remarkably restrained.

"You are an Olympic Champion. You won a 25 centimetre swimming race not so long ago, didn't you," Alex Mandossian, an American "electronic marketing and international domain expert" had earlier told the assembled masses, many of whom have paid with more than £1,000 to be here and celebrate their world beating success as sperm.

"Now turn to the person next to you, give them a high five and say, 'I am a winner. I am a winner!'" They duly oblige. It is not long before we are stood on our feet being told to jump up and down and repeat the words: "I am great. I am great."

Though everyone seems fine with it, Mr Mandossian is strangely apologetic.

"Do you feel uncomfortable doing all this? Do you feel a bit silly? Well I tell you Oprah Winfrey felt a bit silly when she got fired. FIRED!," he says, suddenly shouting. "FIRED! From her job as a newsreader for being too emotional. Well. Oprah Winfrey became the first black woman billionaire in the world. What does that tell you? Billionaires don't mind feeling a bit silly." Of course it does.

Next is Andrew Reynolds, an affable balding Englishman and the author of Cash on Demand, "Grew up in poverty," he says.

"I was preconditioned to thinking I would fail. I would never be successful."

We are showed videos of baby elephants tied to trees. "They're not strong enough to pull away from them," he explains. "Then when they're adults, they're being made to pull trees around all day, but they still don't think they've got the strength to pull away from the one they're tied to. You can!"

Suddenly brave herds of the majestic beasts are sweeping across the African savannah beneath a blazing red sunset and the sounds of gospel choir music. The crowd goes nuts. Then the sales pitch starts. You only have to pay Mr Roberts £199 a month and he'll send you all the products you need (self-learning DVDs, by the way), the customer databases, the lot, to start making millions online right away. Or you can attend his weekend training courses for £10,000.

Don't believe him? A "national reporter" challenged him to prove it not so long ago, he says and we see a video of an "investigative reporter" doorstepping Reynolds and setting him a challenge to make £500,000 in a week. Unsurprisingly, he succeeds. "We were going to show it on the Entrepreneur Channel, which I used to own," says Reynolds - not quite how Panorama works. "Listen," he says. "If you think I'm full of shit don't do business with me, I don't care."

But doing business with Reynolds clearly pays. His final VT flourish contrasts the lives of two alternative Andrew Reynolds, side by side. In one, where he started his DVD sales business, the red wine flows, salmon steaks and new potatoes are served up in glorious technicolor, while adjacent, in black and white, a handheld tin opener forlornly punctures a tin of Tesco Value Baked Beans, bills pile up on the doormat and first the car and then the house are put up for sale. The better Andrew, meanwhile, has parked his Bentley and taken off in his helicopter.When he finishes his ninety minute presentation, he is mobbed by people frantically filling in their forms, clamouring to start making their monthly payments.

"You heard what he said," claimed one, an Eastern European woman in her fifties who wouldn't say her name. "I just take these DVDs, start selling the stuff online. It's only £199 and I can make millions."

Do you think you will?

"Why not? If he can, so can I."

In the lunchtime queues, ticket holders dole out business cards like Vegas black jack dealers. They are an extraordinary mix of ages and nationalities. One woman, in the £1,300 "diamond" seats, who is later dragged on stage by Trump and called beautiful, says she has flown from South Africa that day just to be there. Others carry Lidl bags and sit on the floor eating packed sandwiches.

"Bronze" tickets were available free of charge online yesterday, but there are still plenty of opportunities for 'investment.'

At desks down the sides of the hall, countless more courses are available. American Anthony Robbins offers a four day seminar in "Business Mastery" for £5,995.

Adam Ginsberg, a tall American in the trademark black suit, black T-shirt, black shoes, made $20m selling products on ebay, and quite a bit writing a book about it too. His seminar costs £1,797. "I do this because I want to change people's lives," he says.

But the loudest cheer of the day goes to Mandossian. "I've got some great news," he says. "Every one of you is going to become a millionaire. EVERY ONE OF YOU IS GOING TO BE A MILLIONAIRE."

But there's a catch. The key thing is how quickly you do it - crucially, whether you can move a bit faster than simply being carried there by the power of general inflation. He shows a picture of an African villager pumping away at a water well.

"They key to wealth creation is to pump when you're not thirsty," he informs.

It is also probably the key to driving humanity towards its painful, premature end, but that's not what the National Achievers want to hear. Well, not unless you shout it loud enough, in an American accent, then they'll clap like their lives depend on it.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices