The post-Donald Trump era at NBC has begun, and so far, it's heavy on ninja warriors.
One day after announcing it had cut ties with Trump and would no longer be airing his annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, NBC has settled on a replacement for the July 12 Miss USA telecast, a three-hour American Ninja Warrior special called "USA vs. The World."
NBC's decision to split with Trump was prompted by derogatory comments he made about immigrants during his June 16 presidential campaign announcement.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Trump initially offered an uncharacteristically subdued response to NBC's decision Monday but returned to form later in the day, issuing a statement that read in part, "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."
The American Ninja Warrior special might actually increase NBC's ratings on July 12 among adults 18-49 if last year's numbers are any indication—the Miss USA pageant drew 5.5 million viewers and had a 1.4 rating, while the 2014 "USA vs. The World" special had a 1.8 rating but a slightly smaller total audience of 5.2 million.
Another broadcast or cable network could still come forward in the next two weeks and pick up Miss USA, although CBS, which aired the pageant for nearly 40 years, and HLN told TVNewser they have no such plans. Whether it lands a new TV partner or not, "the show will go on," and the July 12 ceremony will take place, the Miss Universe organization said in a statement.
However, Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts will no longer serve as Miss USA co-hosts. The former Dancing with the Stars dancer said she has stepped down from the gig, noting that in light of Trump's comments, "I cannot in good conscience move forward with participating," while Roberts later announced that he is also exiting the pageant.
While NBC says it is done with Miss USA and Miss Universe, the network will continue to air Celebrity Apprentice, which is licensed from producer Mark Burnett's United Artists Media Group, not Trump himself. Trump already indicated he would not be part of the show because of his presidential run. The network hasn't yet announced who will take his place.