Not many aspiring Auckland property magnates can claim Donald Trump's right-hand man as their mentor.
But Catherine Newton will now have regular discussions with George Ross, executive vice-president of the Trump Organization and one of two advisers to the American billionaire on his reality TV show The Apprentice.
Newton met Ross last week when she became the first New Zealander accepted to attend the Billionaire Class, a seminar Ross runs to teach people how to "build wealth like Donald Trump".
Attendees must apply for the sponsored class, and following a phone interview Newton became the first Australasian to do the four-day course at the Marriott Hotel in New York's Time Square.
Out of 125 students Newton was also one of 40 accepted into the "VIP" section.
This meant a tour escorted by Ross around the Trump buildings in New York, plus dinner with him. Newton was seated next to Ross because she was the person who had travelled the furthest.
The next day she also went to lunch with him, which was when he offered to be one of her advisers. "I was blown away," she said. "When you get an opportunity like that you don't say no."
They will have monthly phone conversations during which he will advise her on her efforts to build a property investment portfolio.
The 82-year-old lawyer, who first started advising Trump in the 1970s, wanted to give back after a lifetime accumulating knowledge about real estate. "He says it would be absolute sacrilege for him to go to his grave with that information still in him," she said.
Newton is a life coach, business coach and residential property investor.
One of Ross' pieces of advice is an investor's first failure is their best because it teaches them the most, and Newton said she had experienced that.
While overseas she bought a Tauranga property sight unseen, only to discover the Black Power lived next door.
"Before I had even signed on the dotted line it went down $100,000 in price. I sold that one just as a complete loss. No tenants wanted to stay, they were having wild parties - it was pretty scary when I actually went there."
Newton believed her passion and enthusiasm got her on the course.
While others were still in a recessionary mindset, Ross and Trump were forging ahead in the belief this was one of the best times to invest in real estate. Ross said more real estate millionaires would be made in the next two years than in past 50.
She said the three main points she would take away from the Billionaire Class were:
Get people to trust and like you because relationships are absolutely key. "When Trump said he would do something, he would deliver."
* Have confidence in your own business or investing strategies, because there will always be people to knock you down.
* Create a "wow" factor for your clients, staff and investors by going above and beyond.
* If you give you will receive. The Trump organisation believed in charity "because what comes around goes around".
She hoped to teach similar principles at an educational facility she was setting up with Don Ha, who came to New Zealand as a refugee and made his fortune in real estate.