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University at Buffalo has something to say to Donald Trump: "You're hired."

He heads the list of personalities lined up for UB's 2004-05 Distinguished Speaker Series.

But getting him to talk took a lot of money.

The New York developer and star of NBC's reality-TV hit "The Apprentice" will receive $200,000, the largest fee UB ever has paid a speaker.

"My strategy is to always hook a big headliner," said William J. Regan, director of conferences and special events at UB. He said Trump "anchors the lineup and gives it some punch."

The list of speakers released Thursday also includes other notable names: Bob Woodward, the well-connected author and investigative reporter; Salman Rushdie, award-winning author of "The Satanic Verses" and other novels; and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

"Providing a forum where timely and consequential ideas and issues can be presented, discussed and debated is one of the most vital functions of a major public research university like UB," John B. Simpson, university president, said in a statement.

Trump is the student choice speaker in the series. The adept self-promoter known for his eye-catching hairstyle and "You're fired" catch phrase, was the first choice of student government officials, Regan said.

"We were told he had a stack of invitations that went from the floor to the ceiling," Regan said, and Trump wouldn't look at an offer below $250,000.

UB first offered $150,000, then the $200,000 that Trump accepted, Regan said.

Ticket sales and sponsorships will cover the cost of Trump's fee.

Former President Bill Clinton, who waived his fee when he spoke at UB in 2002, reportedly commands $125,000 for a lecture.

UB is setting aside 2,750 free tickets for students for the Trump speech Sept. 30. Most of the remaining tickets for Alumni Arena's 6,500 seats will be offered to the public at prices ranging from $24 to $48.

Depending on one's perspective, Trump embodies American-style capitalism or the excesses of pop culture, said Anthony Burgio, UB Student Association president.

Either way, he promises to be a compelling speaker, Burgio said, adding, "I hope he lives up to his reputation."

Woodward, the journalist who helped break the Watergate scandal, will speak Nov. 17. The Pulitzer Prize winner most recently authored "Plan of Attack," an inside account of the events and decisions leading to the Iraq war.

Reno, the attorney general in Clinton's administration and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, will speak March 10 in a debate with Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator and author.

Rushdie, who is speaking April 28, was forced into hiding after the 1988 publication of "The Satanic Verses" when Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini deemed the novel sacrilegious and called on Muslims to kill him.

Also in the series, Steven Squyres, principal investigator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mars Exploration Rover Project, will speak Oct. 13.

Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, author of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," will speak Oct. 27.

UB is requesting all incoming freshmen to read her book, an account of her time spent trying to make a living in a string of minimum-wage jobs.

When the University of North Carolina assigned the book to its freshmen last year, conservative students and some state lawmakers criticized the choice because of what they considered to be Ehrenreich's liberal bias. The book also will be The Buffalo News Book of the Month in October.

Michael Eric Dyson, a University of Pennsylvania professor and author, will be the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event speaker April 7.

Don Davis Auto World and the Student Association are the main series sponsors.

For details on tickets, visit www.specialevents.buffalo.edu or call 645-6147, Ext. 2. Tickets to most speakers will be available after Aug. 4 through Tickets.com, at Tops Markets and at Alumni Arena on the North Campus. e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com