NBC is parting ways with Donald Trump, washing its hands of the bilious real estate mogul following his recent spate of racist and ill-informed remarks about Mexican immigrants.
The network on Monday said it is dumping Mr. Trump from the cast of its hit competition series "Celebrity Apprentice," which is set to go into production on its eighth season this fall. NBC also will no longer air the upcoming Miss USA pageant, which takes place on July 12, nor will it broadcast next year's Miss Universe event.
In a statement issued today, NBC noted that because "respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," it is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. NBC specifically cited Mr. Trump's recent "derogatory statements…regarding immigrants" in its decision to give the volatile host his walking papers.
Back on June 16, after Mr. Trump announced his intentions to run as a Republican presidential candidate, NBC said it would "re-evaluate" his role on the show. It was this blustery and bewildering speech that soured the network's long-standing relationship with the Donald, who characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists before magnanimously allowing that, "some, I assume, are good people."
At the time, NBC issued a statement insisting that the "Apprentice" host's views were not representative of its own. But in the wake of Spanish-language broadcaster Univision's decision to pre-emptively end its five-year contract with the Trump-produced Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants (both of which are partly owned by NBCUniversal) and under pressure from a number of Hispanic leaders and advocacy groups, NBC elected to formally sever ties with the 69-year-old.
In a statement of his own, Mr. Trump threatened to sue NBC for breach of contract, before ridiculing the network for its support of suspended news anchor Brian Williams. "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," he said.
Mr. Trump also said that he had "long ago" informed NBC that he would not be returning to the "Celebrity Apprentice" boardroom because the taping of the show would interfere with his mission to "Make our country great again."
While Mr. Trump is the host and co-executive producer of "Celebrity Apprentice," NBC licenses the show from Mark Burnett's United Artists Media Group. "That relationship will continue," the network said.
If it's anyone's guess who NBC will tap to replace the outlandish "Apprentice" boss (the Trump offspring are probably out of the picture), there was never much danger that the Peacock would kill off the show entirely. Season 7 averaged 6.25 million viewers, up 26% vs. the year-ago campaign, while notching a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49. That makes "Celebrity Apprentice" NBC's fourth highest-rated program behind "Sunday Night Football," "The Voice" and "The Blacklist."
Despite those big ratings deliveries and Mr. Trump's signature bombast, "Celebrity Apprentice" actually was one of the cheapest investments on the broadcast dial. Per media buyers, during last year's upfront, the going rate for a 30-second ad slot in the show was just under $65,000 a throw.