NBC -- which began to build a prime-time comeback more than a decade ago in part based on Donald Trump's name, bravado and one memorable phrase ("You're fired") -- yesterday said it would cut all ties with the Manhattan developer and presidential candidate in the wake of comments that disparaged Mexicans.
In a statement yesterday that followed Univision's decision last week not to air the Trump-produced Miss Universe pageant, NBC said: "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBC is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC." The network also ended its ownership stake in the pageants.
Trump separately indicated he will sue NBCUniversal for breach of contract concerning the Miss Universe pageant, which NBC has aired since 2002. "If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court. Furthermore, they will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be."
During opening remarks when announcing his presidential bid on June 16, Trump said: "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
The comments drew an immediate backlash, including within Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, owner of Telemundo, which has aired a Spanish-language telecast of "The Miss Universe Pageant."
While yesterday's action relates specifically to both the Miss USA (which was to have aired July 12) and Miss Universe pageants, the impact on "The Celebrity Apprentice" is less clear. Trump launched "The Apprentice" in 2004, an immediate hit for a ratings-starved network about to lose a franchise ("Friends"). The show later morphed into the celebrity edition, and -- while a distant reflection of the original edition in terms of ratings and impact -- has been a reliable performer for the network. It was to have returned next year, but both NBC and Trump said he would not have returned as host under any circumstance.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition -- which also pressured NBC to sever ties with Trump in a meeting with NBC programming executives Friday -- said in a statement from its president Alex Nogales, "It is good to have media partners with a conscience who understand that doing business with people like Trump is not only unconscionable, but also would harm relationships with the Latino community and other fair-minded non-Latinos."