DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
NBC 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; NBC said it hasn’t been determined what will air in its place.
The network said that it has already begun exploring ways to air future seasons of the reality series “Celebrity Apprentice” without Trump as host. Reality show producer Mark Burnett continues to work on that show. “The Apprentice,” which Trump also hosted and does not feature celebrities, is on hiatus.
“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” NBC said in a statement.
Trump attributed NBC’s decision to a clash in view points on immigration, saying his views were strong and NBC’s “very weak.” He 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.
He said he’d consider suing, as he plans to do with Univision which announced last week it would not air either of the two pageants.
“When I come out with a strong immigration stance, and I’m very strong on borders and I’m very strong on crime, that maybe I’ll lose NBC along the way,” he said.
During his presidential kickoff speech, Trump said Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.” He called for building a wall along the southern border of the United States. Trump later said that his remarks were directed at U.S. policymakers, not the Mexican government or its people.
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.