BY DAVID BAUDER | ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK — NBC said Monday that it is ending its business relationship with mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump because of comments he made about Mexican immigrants during the announcement of his campaign.
The network said it would no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which had been a joint venture between the company and Trump. Miss USA has aired on NBC since 2003, and this year’s edition was set for July 12.
“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” NBC said in a statement.
Trump’s reply: a “weak” NBC should prepare to meet him in court.
NBC’s action comes less than a week after Univision similarly decided to ditch Trump and the pageants. Trump has also been a fixture on NBC as host of “The Apprentice” and its celebrity offshoot, and an agreement that he would no longer be on the show predated the current controversy. The network said Monday that it and producer Mark Burnett are exploring ways to continue “Celebrity Apprentice” sans Trump.
Trump said he anticipated losing the business relationship and that he’s not apologizing for his statements because they “were correct.”
“Whatever they want to do is OK with me,” Trump told reporters in Chicago after a campaign speech to civic leaders.
But in a statement issued by his company in New York, Trump said “NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct. That is why our country is in serious trouble.”
He said he’d consider suing, as he plans to do with Univision.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a group of 39 Latino advocacy organizations, had called on NBC to get out of business with Trump. Similarly, a petition urging the same thing on the Change.org website had gathered more than 218,000 signatures.
In a sense, NBC’s hand was forced by Univision’s decision. NBC’s parent company, NBC Universal, owns Telemundo, the chief competitor to Univision among Spanish-language networks in the United States. Telemundo lost the contract to air Miss USA and Miss Universe to Univision.