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NBC fired Donald Trump for calling Mexican immigrants "rapists"

Donald Trump appears in the most recent season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice.
Donald Trump appears in the most recent season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice.
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.
  1. NBC announced it will no longer air properties associated with Donald Trump, including the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, as well as the long-running reality show The Celebrity Apprentice.
  2. The decision comes in the wake of Trump making what NBC deemed "derogatory statements" about Mexican immigrants.
  3. Trump's properties had already been dropped by Univision, and that company's employees had been told not to patronize Trump-owned businesses while traveling.
  4. "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best," Trump said on June 16 when announcing his candidacy for president. "They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting."
  5. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," NBC said in a statement.
  6. Trump released his own statement on his Facebook page, which you can read below.

Statement on Relationship with NBC-

Posted by Donald J. Trump on Monday, June 29, 2015

The decision saves NBC headaches in other areas as well

The network aired a new season of The Celebrity Apprentice in winter 2015, but it hadn't aired the program since 2013 before that. The show had cooled substantially from its early megahit days (when it was just The Apprentice), but it served as relatively cheap fill-in programming for the network, something that could be tossed on the air for a few weeks to draw a consistent, if low, ratings number.

NBC had picked up The Celebrity Apprentice for an eighth season back in February, but because of Trump's candidacy, he was not going to appear on camera in that eighth season. Why? Something usually called the "equal time" law.

Any subsequent seasons of Celebrity Apprentice would have aired with Trump as a bona fide presidential candidate, which would have bumped up against the rule, which guarantees that radio and TV stations that use the US broadcast bandwidth must provide equal time to all candidates in a particular political race.

It sure seemed like that would apply to The Celebrity Apprentice, but at the same time, a reality show is substantially different from most campaign opportunities, so it was hard to say just how the equal-time rule would be applied. Would all presidential candidates, no matter how minor, be given two hours weekly for six to eight weeks on the NBC network? Would they all be given reality shows?

NBC's solution was to relegate Trump to a role as producer only, which almost certainly would have worked — even if Trump's boardroom decisions remain the show's most easily marketable element.

But trying to figure out a way forward with a Trump-less Apprentice only would have been necessary if the show were a bigger hit. In its current state, it's much easier for the network to simply cut ties with Trump.

Trump also gets a benefit from this deal

While the loss of a broadcast network outlet for the beauty pageants likely hurts more than The Celebrity Apprentice (which had turned into a headache for both its network and major star), Trump now gets to portray himself as a Hollywood pariah to the Republican conservative base.

Wrote Alyssa Rosenberg at the Washington Post in advance of NBC's decision:

If Trump can suggest that NBC, like Univision, is getting rid of him because of the positions he’s taking, there are all sorts of new political options available to him. He can argue that his comments about Latino immigrants are a form of brave truth-telling about both Mexican culture and American trade policy that are too hot for networks — especially one like Univision,which aims at a primarily Latino audience — to handle. Trump can also position himself as a conservative victim of Hollywood discrimination, someone who has been inside the machine and emerged with truths about the entertainment industry’s liberal bias that the world needs to hear.

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