The history of Donald Trump and NBC’s love-hate relationship that made him a star

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Getty Images

NBC and Donald Trump have been intertwined in a very prickly relationship for three decades. When it was good, it was really good. But then it got so bad, it was broken up.

Trump and NBC’s relationship has never been so embattled as during his presidential run. All that culminated a few weeks ago when the NBC Universal-owned “Access Hollywood” unearthed a tape of Trump saying lewd, aggressive things about women.

It would’ve been much more simple if that was all the recording contained, but it also involved newly hired “Today” show cohost and NBC’s rising star Billy Bush as Trump’s wingman.

As a result, Trump and NBC’s relationship has reached a new low, and some argue NBC could sink Trump’s chances of winning the election with its Billy Bush tape, years after it made Trump a star.

Recently, Trump accused NBC and parent owner Comcast of “trying to poison the mind of the American voter.”

Let’s take a look at the history of NBC and Trump’s thorny partnership:


1988: “Saturday Night Live” spoofed Donald Trump for the first time in a sketch called “A Trump Christmas,” in which Phil Hartman played the real-estate mogul and Jan Hooks portrayed his then-wife Ivana. The show would spoof Trump many, many times over the years.

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“SNL’s” Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks as Donald and Ivana Trump in 1988 sketch.
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“Saturday Night Live”/NBC

Source: NBC


2002: Donald Trump, who owned the Miss Universe Organization, decided to take its Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe pageants from CBS to NBC. NBC began airing them every year.

Source: Quartz


2003: In search of a new reality show idea, NBC President Jeff Zucker met with Donald Trump for the first time. It would become a long and fruitful relationship for them both.

Source: TheWrap


January 2004: “The Apprentice” premiered on NBC. Created by Mark Burnett, the show offered its winner a $250,000 job with Donald Trump for a year. More than 28 million people watched that first season’s finale. Trump was paid $1 million an episode.

Source: Nielsen


April 2004: Donald Trump hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time.

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Donald Trump hosting “SNL.”
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“Saturday Night Live”/NBC

Source: NBC


January 2005: NBC President Jeff Zucker asked Donald Trump if NBC could broadcast his wedding to Melania Knauss. Trump said no, but later regretted it, saying it could’ve been a ratings victory.

Source: Digital Spy


2005: While Donald Trump was interviewing with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about a cameo on a daytime drama, the two engaged in a lewd side discussion about women. That recording went into the tape vault and was not publicly seen for over a decade.

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Billy Bush, left, and Donald Trump during a 2005 “Access Hollywood” shoot.
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“Access Hollywood”/NBC Universal

Source: Business Insider


2007: NBC released a fall schedule without “The Apprentice,” which had been steadily losing viewers for a few seasons. Mark Burnett threatened to take the show to another network and Donald Trump said he was “moving on” from the show. But neither man made good on their threats and NBC ended up renewing the show for another season.

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Donald Trump and Mark Burnett at Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in 2007.
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Getty Images

Source: Quartz


January 2008: In a bid to bring viewers back, NBC introduced “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Its first season saw a big rise in viewers. But later seasons continued the previous ratings decline.

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From left, first “Celebrity Apprentice” winner Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, and Ivanka Trump.
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NBC

Source: Quartz


March 2008: In a ratings grab, Donald Trump suggested suspected murderer O.J. Simpson as a cast member for “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Amid uproar over the reports, NBC put out a statement denying any chance that Simpson would be on the show.

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Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


2011: Donald Trump began his “birther” campaign against President Barack Obama, accusing him of having not been born in the US. There were calls for NBC to fire Trump, but the network resisted. Just 4.5 million viewers watched the season-11 finale of “The Apprentice.”

Source: Quartz


May 2011: Seth Meyers earned the ire of Trump when he made fun of the real-estate mogul’s political aspirations while hosting the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. At the time, Meyers was the head writer at NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

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Seth Meyers hosts the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011.
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C-Span

Source: The Washington Post


2013: NBC Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt tried to justify the network’s ongoing relationship with Donald Trump. “It comes with the Donald Trump territory,” he said of Trump’s controversial politics.

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Bob Greenblatt, flanked by actors Aubrey Plaza and Jack McBrayer.
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Getty Images

Source: Buzzfeed


2014: Donald Trump’s grudge against Seth Meyers became apparent. After NBC named Meyers as the host of the Emmys, Trump tweeted, “That Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards is a total joke. He is very awkward with almost no talent. Marbles in his mouth!” But Meyers was a rising star at the network and would eventually go on to host NBC’s “Late Night” show.

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Twitter

Source: The Washington Post


June 2015: Donald Trump announced his presidential run. During the speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists. Following backlash from viewers and Latino rights groups, NBC announced it was cutting all ties to Trump. As a result, NBC fired the mogul from “The Apprentice” and said it would stop airing his Miss Universe pageants.

Source: Business Insider


November 2015: Despite having said it would cut its ties to Donald Trump, NBC invited him to host “SNL.” Of a decision that was clearly a ratings grab, NBC Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt said, “If we were in the business of never having guests on the network who had different views than our viewers, we’d be out of business.”

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Donald Trump, flanked by Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond
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NBC

Source: Business Insider


2016: Former NBC boss Jeff Zucker became president of CNN Worldwide in 2013. That has once again placed him in a position to give Donald Trump coverage and he has. The executive has been accused of overdoing it on the Trump coverage at CNN.

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Getty Images

Source: TheWrap


September 2016: Jimmy Fallon was criticized for his softball interview of Donald Trump on “The Tonight Show.” The host did, however, get to mess up his hair.

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Donald Trump on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”
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Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

Source: Business Insider


October 2016: Alec Baldwin signed on to play Donald Trump on “SNL.” Trump tweeted that the actor’s impression “stinks.”

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Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump in “SNL” teaser.
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YouTube/NBC

Source: Business Insider


October 2016: The “Access Hollywood” tape showing Donald Trump and Billy Bush speaking terribly about women leaked. NBC and “Access Hollywood” got scooped on the tape by The Washington Post. This threw both Trump’s campaign and NBC into damage-control mode. Both Trump and Bush apologized, but Bush ended up losing his job with “Today.”

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“Access Hollywood’/NBC Universal

Source: Business Insider


October 2016: Donald Trump accused Comcast and NBC of “trying to poison the mind of the American voter.”

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Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Florida.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: CNN